Healing a chest tattoo can be tricky because you need to be mindful of it and avoid certain activities as it has a higher chance of stretching even with minimal upper body movements.

A tattoo is an open wound, so you need to give it time and care to heal properly.

Although the aftercare routine is almost the same as other body parts, you need to keep in mind a few specific things when it comes to a chest tattoo.

Let’s read the chest tattoo care guide to know everything you may want to know after getting a chest tattoo. This includes a proper aftercare plan, how long it takes to heal, what you can wear, how and when to shower, and how you can sleep to heal your ink correctly without messing up.

Do chest tattoos hurt?

Generally, how much pain you’ll get while tattooing on your chest mostly depends on your gender, pain tolerance, artist’s expertise, and the precautions you have taken before the session.

According to the tattoo pain chart, the chest is a madium painful spot to get tattooed. If you have more or less muscles on your chest, you may experience less or more pain since tattooing in the boney areas hurts most compared to the meaty or fatty areas.

This means skinny people are more likely to experience greater pain than those with muscular or fatty chests.

However, you can follow some strategies (like scheduling a morning session, choosing a licensed artist, using a numbing cream, etc.) to make your tattoo hurt less.

Chest Tattoo Care: Step-by-Step

Chest Tattoo Care: Everything You Need to Know

Here’s your step-by-step chest tattoo aftercare routine:

  • Be sure your artist will apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly and bandage it after finishing the tattoo procedure.
  • After you reach your home about 3-4 hours later, remove the bandage and clean it with lukewarm water and fragrance-free soap. Then gently pat it dry with a clean paper towel. 
  • Make sure not to use hot water on your tattoo, which doesn’t only hurt but also can fade your ink.
  • Don’t put another bandage on it. Leave your tattoo open with air, which is crucial for healing.
  • Keep doing the cleaning process at least twice a day for 2-4 weeks, and apply an unscented moisturizer or ointment every time after washing your tattoo except on day one.
  • Make sure not to work out, swim, and get direct sun exposure for the first 2 or 3 weeks. Also, try not to wear tight clothes when it heals.

Remember, keeping the tattooed area clean and hydrated is the key to proper healing.

Redness, oozing, and swelling are completely normal in the first few days. You’ll feel itchy, and some scabs or hard layers of skin will start forming on your tattoo after a week. Make sure you never scratch or peel them off. Let them peel off on their own.

Gently rubbing a lotion on your tattoo will help reduce the itchiness and moisten the skin.

If you notice any of the common symptoms continue to worsen or your tattoo isn’t healing correctly, see your doctor as soon as possible.

How long does a chest tattoo take to heal?

A new tattoo is an open wound that takes about 4-6 weeks to heal properly, so it is for tattoos as well. (1)

However, tattoo healing time depends on several factors, including tattoo type, aftercare, and location.

Generally, a smaller chest tattoo takes about 2-3 weeks to heal (the outer layers), whereas the larger ones may take a couple of weeks more as long as you follow a proper aftercare routine.

However, healing a tattoo from deep within takes about 2 to 6 months.

How do you shower with a chest tattoo?

Yes, you can (and should) shower after getting a tattoo, but not submerging or soaking. Try to shower as minimum as possible.

Avoid direct running water (or hot water) to your fresh ink and skip loofah or washcloth on the tattooed area.

When showering, you can gently clean your tattoo with a mild soap. And as soon as you’re done showering, slowly pat it dry with a clean paper towel and apply a fragrance-free moisturizer.

Remember, you should not swim or submerge your new chest tattoo in a bath until it heals because that can cause mild to severe infection and discoloration of your tattoo.

What to wear after getting a chest tattoo?

Whether you have a tattoo on your chest or other body parts, it is always recommended to wear loose clothing while healing.

Because a new tattoo is essentially an open wound and covering it with tight clothing can cause rubbing or sticking with the fresh ink, leading to a higher chance of getting an infection and messing up the tattoo.

And after a painful session, we definitively don’t want such situations.

Be sure to choose a cloth made of cotton, linen, or viscose — very light materials that won’t interrupt your tattoo healing.

Can you wear a bra after a chest tattoo?

Proper airflow and no interruption are essential for tattoo healing. A bra basically holds the skin tightly, reducing the airflow and likely to stick with your tattooed skin, increasing the chances of infection and delaying healing.

It’s best to avoid wearing a bra for the first few days after getting a chest tattoo. However, if you got a tattoo on the sternum, you may want to wear bras. It’s fine.

You’ll understand your situation better. If your bra is sticking (or rubbing) your new ink, avoid it. If not, wear it.

How do you sleep with a fresh chest tattoo?

If you got a new tattoo on your chest, you need to be extra careful when you sleep.

Here’re the tips to sleep with a fresh chest tattoo:

  • Use a clean bed sheet, or you can wrap your tattoo with a breathable healing warp (like tattoo film). It helps you prevent oozes and blood from the new ink.
  • Sleep on your back to keep yourself off of the tattoo.
  • Keep wetting if any ooze or blood is coming out from your tattoo.
  • Try to sleep alone without a partner or pets.
  • Wear loose or no clothes to avoid rubbing.
  • You can arrange pillows and place them on your sides to keep you in the desired position throughout the whole night.
  • You can rewrap a bandage if your artist recommends.
  • Take about 8 hours of quality sleep.

You should follow these sleeping tips until your chest tattoo heals. 


Whether you got a new tattoo on your chest or any other body parts, you must give it time and care to heal correctly.

Follow a proper aftercare routine that includes cleaning and moisturizing 2-3 times daily. Make sure to avoid exercising, swimming, and direct sun exposure until the top layers of your tattoo heal.

So… There we have it: how to take care of a chest tattoo.

If you have any questions regarding chest tattoos, feel free to ask in the comment section below. I’d be glad to help you.