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How to Care for a Tattoo on Your Ankle

By Cynthia Measom ; Updated July 27, 2017

While tattoo care largely remains the same for any location of a tattoo on your body, some exceptions exist. Some swelling occurs as an after-effect of receiving a tattoo, and since an ankle tattoo is located on an extremity -- the leg -- swelling can prove more of an issue than in other areas of the body. In addition to general tattoo care, you should work to control the swelling as much as possible.

  1. Remove the bandage from the ankle tattoo within approximately two hours after receiving the tattoo. The wound needs to breathe. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before touching the ankle tattoo to avoid introducing bacteria to the wound.

  2. Wash your ankle tattoo gently with warm water and soap, using your hands only. Do not use a washcloth or sponge to cleanse the tattoo. Pat the clean tattoo dry with paper towels. Do not use a cloth towel because it may harbor bacteria. Wash your tattoo two times per day, such as when you get up in the morning and before going to bed.

  3. Cover the ankle tattoo with a thin layer of hydro-cortisone ointment to moisturize and help it heal. Repeat every time you wash the tattoo or if the tattoo becomes dry. After three to four days, switch to an unscented, uncolored moisturizing lotion.

  4. Wear shoes that don't interfere with the ankle tattoo. It needs to remain untouched and open to the air. Do not wear any socks or jewelry or pants that may rub the tattoo.

  5. Monitor your ankle tattoo for swelling. Elevate your leg atop a pillow and apply an ice pack -- plastic bag filled with ice and covered in a paper towel -- to the area for 15 minutes at a time throughout the day as you notice swelling. Sleep with your leg elevated at night to keep swelling at a minimum.

  6. Tip

    Gently cover your tattoo if you're going out in the sun. The sun can fade the colors.

    Tape a piece of plastic wrap over your tattoo at night if you find that it's oozing. This can help protect your sheets.

    Warnings

    Sun block is helpful once the tattoo has healed, but don't apply it to a healing tattoo.

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