Can I Run After Getting A Tattoo?

It’s important to be careful after getting a new tattoo. While the tattoo is healing, some ink is likely to peel away.

To prevent this, it’s often necessary to be more cautious than usual in your day-to-day life, especially when it comes to clothes rubbing on the tattooed area. 

Can I Run After Getting A Tattoo?

Additionally, new tattoos are basically like open wounds, so it’s essential to be aware of what your tattoo is coming into contact with to avoid the introduction of germs and resultant infections. 

Bearing all of this information in mind, is it okay to go for a run after getting a tattoo? Read on to find out! 

The Healing Stages Of A Tattoo 

Before we get into the finer details of running with a tattoo, it’s essential to understand the main stages of the tattoo healing process.

Fresh tattoos have a higher risk of infection than a healing tattoo after a couple of weeks, for example.

Knowing where your tattoo is in the healing process will help you to make the best possible decisions regarding tattoo care and physical activity. 

Stage 1: Week 1 

In the first week after you get your tattoo, you can expect some swelling and irritation. You might also notice some oozing from the tattoo, but this should not be excessive.

You should notice that the discomfort and swelling improve with each day. 

Stage 2: Week 2 

Your tattoo should be much less sensitive during the second week of the healing process, but you will still need to be careful.

This is the point at which your tattoo is likely to start peeling and scabbing, so it will be prone to damage during the second week. The area should no longer feel irritated or swollen. 

Stage 3: Weeks 3 – 4 

During the third and fourth weeks of healing, it’s common for people to stop being careful with their tattoos because the area looks totally healed.

However, it’s crucial to remember that while the upper layers of skin have healed, the dermis might not have returned to normal yet. 

Things To Avoid After Getting A Tattoo 

Because your tattoo will be vulnerable to damage and infection, especially during the first two weeks, you might need to change up your regular routine or limit certain activities to give the tattoo the best chance of healing properly.

This is especially important during the first 24 to 48 hours after getting the tattoo.

Water Exposure 

One thing your tattoo artist will tell you when giving you the aftercare instructions is to avoid getting your tattoo wet if you can.

This is because moisture increases the risk of infection and can loosen scabs that form as the tattoo heals, causing the ink to come away. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t shower, but try to keep the tattooed area out of the stream of water if possible, at least for the first 24 hours.

During this time, you should not go swimming, especially in chlorinated water. 

If you must wash the tattooed area, use some very mild, unscented soap and water, and very carefully pat the tattoo dry with a soft towel.

Otherwise, stick to moisturizing the area with unscented, tattoo-safe lotion. 


Your tattoo artist will also recommend that you avoid wearing tight clothes against the tattooed area since friction is one of the main causes of damage during the healing process.

Tight clothing, especially if you’re exercising and working up a sweat, can also cause an accumulation of bacteria, leading to infection. 

Stretching The Skin

It’s important not to stretch the tattooed skin in the early stages of healing because this may cause your tattoo to bleed and alter its shape.

This is more of an issue with large tattoos that span multiple body parts because every movement of the area stretches the skin, but you should still take care not to stretch out smaller tattoos. 

Sun Exposure 

UV light can be damaging to fresh tattoos. Not only is the tattooed skin more sensitive and prone to sunburn, but the UV rays can cause blistering and bleeding which will ruin the appearance of your tattoo. 

In the few days after getting your tattoo, it’s best not to take any risks and avoid direct sun exposure altogether. You could apply sunscreen, but this is not advisable with a brand-new tattoo. 

Running With A New Tattoo

Can I Run After Getting A Tattoo?

If you have a new tattoo or are planning to get one, you might be worried about how this will impact your running routine. Here’s how to run safely in the first 48 hours after getting a new tattoo: 

Reduce Sweat 

Long runs that leave you drenched in sweat are a no-go in the first 2 days after getting tattooed.

Not only is sweat itself a breeding ground for infection, but the sweatier you get during a workout, the more likely it is that you’ll have to expose your tattoo to water in the shower. 

Try to run at a slower pace or go for shorter runs while your tattoo is healing. You might want to run on a treadmill in an area with air conditioning instead of outside in the hot sun. 

Minimize Friction 

Avoid wearing tight running gear, especially compression gear, after getting a tattoo. If you only have tight-fitting running clothes, wear a bandage over your tattoo to prevent the friction from pulling off scabs and rubbing ink away. 

Pay special attention to friction damage if your tattoo is on the inner thigh area or anywhere else that is prone to chafing. 

If you need to get the tattoo wet in order to shower after your run, make sure to pat (not rub!) the skin dry with a non-abrasive towel. 

Wear Sun Protection 

Cover up your tattoo with loose-fitting clothes or a bandage if you’re running in the sun. After the first week, you can also apply a small amount of sunscreen, but make sure there are no chemicals in the product that could damage your tattoo. 

Final Thoughts 

While you can go for a run after getting a tattoo, it might be best to wait 48 hours before you do so, especially if your tattoo is large and easy to stretch.

If you really can’t wait, you will need to take some extra precautions to ensure that your tattoo does not get damaged or infected.

Try not to get too sweaty, avoid getting the tattoo wet in the shower, wear loose-fitting clothes or a protective bandage, and don’t expose the area to direct sunlight. 

By following these guidelines, you can safely continue your running routine after getting a tattoo. 

Megan Rinzel
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