Hiking with a New Tattoo (What you Should Know)

Hiking with a New Tattoo

A new tattoo requires a lot of care and attention as it has a risk of developing infection. It requires cleaning multiple times a day with tap water and a couple of times with soap. You should avoid strenuous physical activity and sweating during the healing period, which lasts for about a month. During this period, the tattoo should be kept dry and that’s why extensive sweating is not good.

Keeping all these factors in mind, you should avoid going for a hike with a newly inked tattoo, right? Should you go hiking at all with a new tattoo?

The answer to this question lies in how you feel and how well you can take care of your new tattoo. If the hike is a brief one and if you can take necessary precautions to avoid irritation and infection to your tattoo, you can go on the hike and enjoy it.

But before you hit the trail with a new tattoo, you must know all the basic tattoo care measures. You should use an ace wrap to cover your tattoo during such hiking expeditions. Remember, in the wild the vegetation and dirt will irritate your tattoo. So it’s better to keep it covered.

You should definitely avoid hiking that involves many days in the wild on a stretch. This can expose your tattoo to many unforeseen circumstances and environments and all of them may not be perfectly healthy for your newly inked tattoo. So, while you’re waiting for your tattoo to fully heal, stick to day hikes.

Before we look any further how or when to hike with a new tattoo, let’s first look at the healing process of a tattoo. This is valuable insight when you’re making a decision on whether or not to hit the trail.

Different Stages of Healing of a Tattoo

Getting a new tattoo
Make sure you give your new tattoo time to heal properly.

A tattoo takes at least 4 weeks to be completely healed on the surface; however, the healing process is still going on after this period beneath the skin. During this period of 4 weeks since the tattoo was inked, you should take proper care of it and maintain a high standard of hygiene, especially in the tattoo region. After this period is over, you can enjoy both your hikes and tattoo without any fear or as many extra precautions.

Here is how your tattoo skin heals after getting inked:

0-5 days: During the first five days, your tattoo is more an open wound than a piece of body art. It’s still very delicate and you must take great care to save it from dirt, sweat, abrasion, and dirty water. Follow the instructions provided by your tattoo artist. Your tattoo may itch and be irritated. It might also ooze or swell up on certain spots. But with every passing day, it will become better.

5-10 days: During this period, the skin has healed to some extent and a layer of scab is now covering it. It’s a wound that’s now closing fast. The condition of the skin is better than before, but it is not normal. You must continue to take good care of it.

10-15 days: During this period, the healing process is stabilized to a great extent. Now the scabbing is hardened but you should wait for it to fall off naturally rather than trying to remove it yourself. You should avoid exposing it to the sun and use sunscreen in good measure.

15-30 days: Your tattoo is fully healed from the outside. But inside the skin, the wounds are still not fully healed. This means you can start your normal activity but you should not allow your tattoo to be especially stressed or exposed to dirt, sweat, and all that.

Keep yourself in a Hygienic Environment

Is it a great idea to go hiking with a new tattoo? During hiking, you are not sure about the kind of environment you will find yourself in, and if it is necessarily hygienic. To prevent infection after inking, you should avoid environments which are not completely hygienic, if not completely sanitized. There are always times where you could brush up against something or potentially trip and fall.

Immediately after inking when your skin is still not healed and there is a wound both on the skin and just beneath it, it is not recommended to be out for a hike.

Exposure to Dirt is a Problem

Keeping your tattoo from dirt is important to avoid infection.

The main problem during hiking with a new tattoo is exposure to dust on the trail. Dust is typically infested with germs and bacteria and all of these can enter your tattoo and skin which is still not healed.

If you are in a situation where you are out in the wilderness during the initial stages of healing, wash your tattoo. Bring the soap recommended by your tattoo artist and water.

Sometimes, this may not be practical but also keep in mind that excessive exposure to water can cause infection. Washing your tattoo 3 times a day with water and soap is fine. But beyond this, it’s not okay. Yes, you can use tap water to clean the tattoo skin but it is very unlikely to find tap water during your hike.

Keep your Focus on Cleaning

However, if you have ended up being on a hike after getting inked, it is important that you follow necessary instructions given by your tattoo artists and ensure there is no complication. You must prevent your tattoo from developing any kind of infection. For this you should follow a set of general rules for this kind of situation.

Washing your tattoo 3 times a day with clean water and tattoo-specific soap and applying proper tattoo ointment every time is necessary. Beyond this you should prevent your tattoo from getting exposed to direct sun. For this, you should wear a cloth that covers the tattoo area. But the cloth must be loose so that it does not rub against your tattoo and cause a rash.

Prevent Extensive Sweating

Hiking with Tattoos
Hiking with a tattoo is allowed but must have a constant care.

You should avoid extensive sweating that can create an unhealthy environment for your tattoo and the unhealed skin under it. You should always try to keep your tattoo dry and clean. Don’t allow sweat to stay on your tattoos for long. Every time you have a bout of sweat, you should use isopropyl alcohol and water to clean the tattoo skin.

If any clothing around your tattoo gets wet, from water or sweat, make sure to dry them out to keep moisture away from the area.

Why is sweat so harmful to the tattoo? It’s because sweat is a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria. Extensive sweating can cause bacterial infection in your tattoo and it can cause scarring.

Here are some dos and don’ts for you if you have just now inked and are ready to go far a hike.


  • Keep your tattoo dry and clean
  • Wear only loose clothes
  • Take care of it during your hike
  • Wash it 3 times a day with clean water and soap
  • Use appropriate ointment on the tattoo


  • Don’t keep your tattoo exposed to direct sun
  • Don’t wash it with water from rivers and lakes
  • Don’t let vegetation or insects touch your tattoo
  • Don’t let sweat to stay longer on the tattoo skin
  • Don’t wear tight clothes that can rub and rash it


Final Thoughts

Hiking is a great experience. It is wonderful for your mind and spirit, yet offers a great physical workout. There are few things that can match the charm and beauty of a trail well travelled. But if you have been needled recently, and your tattoo is still not fully healed, should you go for a hike?

Well, the answer is how you feel about it and how much care you are ready to take for your newly inked tattoo. A new tattoo has a risk of getting infected with germs and bacteria that’s commonly found in a sweaty and dirty environment. That’s why you should pay more attention to keeping the tattoo clean and dry during your hike, should you go on one.

If you are able to give your tattoo the aftercare it needs, it will feel good. But if you don’t give the care and attention it requires, you may land in some trouble with your tattoo. That’s not going to be a great experience and you must spare your tattoo anything that’s not pleasant.

Ryan H

I love hiking and being outdoors with Jen and our two rescue dogs, Chompers and Mia. I also enjoy a good weekend trail run. I'm also really enjoying sharing some of the knowledge we've learned along the way here on Zenful Hiking!

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