Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience. Once the tattoo has healed, you want to show it off and take good care of it. As part of the aftercare process, you may notice some plasma or oozing from your new tattoo. This is completely normal, but it does raise the question: should you wipe off tattoo plasma or let it naturally flake away?
What is tattoo plasma?
Tattoo plasma, also sometimes called tattoo ooze or discharge, refers to the fluid that can leak from a new tattoo during the healing process. This plasma is made up of ink, blood, and lymph fluid.
When a tattoo needle enters your skin, it creates tiny wounds. Your body reacts by sending nutrient-rich plasma to the area to help it heal. This plasma bringing nutrients to the tattooed area is what causes tattoo ink to initially look bright and vibrant.
As your tattoo continues to heal, this plasma can sometimes seep out and dry on the surface of your skin, forming a scab or flaky discharge. The oozing of plasma is very common in the first few weeks after getting inked.
Is wiping off plasma recommended?
Most tattoo artists advise against picking, peeling, or scrubbing off any plasma or scabbing from a healing tattoo. Here are some of the risks of prematurely wiping or picking off tattoo plasma:
- Can remove ink – Plasma contains tattoo ink so wiping it away can lead to loss of pigment
- Causes scarring – Picking scabs can damage the skin and lead to permanent scarring
- Increases infection risk – Picking can introduce bacteria and interfere with the protective plasma layer
- Slows healing – Letting plasma naturally flake off allows the skin to heal better than wiping
So in most cases, you should avoid wiping, scrubbing, or picking at tattoo plasma before it’s ready to naturally flake off. Be patient and let the oozing run its course.
When should I wipe plasma off a tattoo?
While you should avoid wiping off plasma too soon, there are some exceptions where gently wiping plasma may be okay or even recommended:
- Before washing – Gently dabbing oozing plasma with a soft paper towel or cloth before washing can help clean the area
- Before reapplying ointment – Wiping off excessive oozing before reapplying aftercare ointment ensures the product absorbs better
- To reduce spreading – If plasma has spread far from the tattoo site, you can lightly dab the outer edges to keep it contained
- If instructed by your artist – Sometimes artists recommend gently wiping away plasma if the buildup gets too thick
The key is to be very gentle. Never scrub, pick, or peel. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to lightly dab only if necessary. Avoid excessive wiping that could disrupt healing.
How to wipe plasma from a healing tattoo
If you do need to lightly wipe away excess plasma from your new ink, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap
- Gently dab a soft, clean paper towel or cloth with warm water
- Very lightly pat or blot the tattoo – never scrub!
- Immediately wash the tattoo again with gentle cleanser and pat dry
- Apply a thin layer of recommended ointment or lotion
Wipe only as much plasma as necessary, using minimal pressure. Take care not to disturb any scabs that have formed. If wiping causes bleeding, scabbing, or other issues, stop immediately.
Signs of problems with tattoo plasma
While some plasma and oozing is normal as a tattoo heals, look out for the following signs of potential problems:
- Excessive oozing that won’t stop
- Plasma that looks green, yellow, or another unusual color
- Foul odor coming from the plasma
- Redness, swelling, warm skin, or severe pain around the tattoo
- Fever, flu-like symptoms along with plasma or oozing
These can indicate an infection or reaction. Contact your tattoo artist or doctor if your plasma oozing seems abnormal or excessive.
How long does tattoo plasma last?
It’s typical for a new tattoo to ooze plasma and lymph fluid for around 2-5 weeks on average. However, healing time can vary based on:
- Your skin type and health
- Size, depth, and location of the tattoo
- Your artist’s technique
- How well you follow aftercare instructions
Larger, deeper tattoos may ooze slightly longer. Areas like the feet and elbows tend to heal slower. No matter the variables, try to let plasma naturally flake off as your tattoo heals.
|Tattoo Size||Average Plasma Duration|
|Small (2 x 2 inches)||2-3 weeks|
|Medium (6 x 6 inches)||3-4 weeks|
|Large (full sleeve, back piece)||4-5 weeks|
It’s best not to wipe away or pick at tattoo plasma before your skin is ready. Allowing plasma to naturally flake off as your tattoo heals helps ensure vibrant color and reduces the risk of scarring or infection. But if your artist recommends it or plasma is excessive, gently dabbing – never scrubbing or picking – can be okay. Just take care not to disrupt scabs or the healing process. With proper aftercare, your new tattoo will look amazing once fully healed!