New Tattoos and Scuba Diving: Is it possible to dive with a new tattoo?

March 12, 2010
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Is it possible to mix new tattoos and scuba diving? Can you dive with a new tattoo? Many people say that you need to stay out of the sea for a couple of weeks to let the tattoo heal properly or the color can fade, scabs can form, infections can happen, or more. All tattoos have some risk associated with the previously mentioned.

Phuket tattooists are everywhere you look and some of them are world class. On the whole their tattoo designs are original and the hygiene is excellent. Dirty needles are a thing of the past in Thailand, thankfully. The prices for tattoos in Thailand are usually a lot cheaper that you can find in your home countries, expect to pay around B18000 for a full sleeve, or slightly more for a full back tattoo. There are some bamboo tattooists in Phuket, and many more on Koh Phi Phi. With a bamboo tattoo it’s acceptable to go into the sea straight away with your new tattoo unprotected. However, the lines on the tattoo won’t be as high quality as a machined tattoo. Bamboo tattoos also tend to fade more quickly.

Ideally, if you’re going to have a machined tattoo you’ll stay out of the sea for 10 days, or until the tattoo has shed all its scabs and you’re fully healed. This isn’t actually necessary though, and it’s possible to go into the sea, or scuba dive the very next day after being inked. It’s extremely hard to come to Thailand and stay out of the sea because of a new tattoo.

Vaseline should be applied before each dive. Don’t overdo it, just a very thin layer will do. Buy some plastic wrap (Clingfilm) from the supermarket, and wrap the tattoo as best you can. For an arm or leg tattoo this is fairly easy, for a back tattoo it can be more difficult. Asking someone to help you makes things a lot easier, and most scuba diving instructors will usually be very happy to help, especially if you’re a lithe young Swedish girl or even better, half Columbian and half Swedish. Try to make the wrapping as waterproof as you can, but don’t worry too much if some parts are exposed or leak a little.

As soon as you finish the dive, take off the wrap and rinse the tattoo with fresh water. Dry it off, and keep it out of the sun. There’s no need to apply lashings of Vaseline after each dive. Remember, you want the scabs to form and heal. Too much Vaseline inhibits this process and remember, your tattoo should be exposed to as much fresh air as possible. It should not be exposed to too much sun though, so try to keep it in the shade. Baths and swimming at the beach should be avoided as much as possible.

We know many scuba diving instructors who have had machined tattoos and then dived everyday straight afterwards, with no ill effects to their tattoo.

Anestasia Tattoo Patong

Anestasia Tattoo Patong

Remember these are only guidelines. Of course, if you can stay out of the water then do. Don’t let your tattoo ruin you plans for scuba diving. Scuba diving with tattoos is okay.

One last thing, how can you choose a tattoo artist in Phuket when there are literally hundreds of them?

We recommend Anesthesia Tattoo just opposite Taipan in Patong Beach. Their artists are superb and they come up with some great designs. Booking is essential as they are always very busy due to the quality of their work.

There are many more tattooists in Patong. If you see someone with a new tattoo walking around and you love their tattoo, stop them and ask where they got it. Word of mouth is a great way to find the best tattooists in Phuket.

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