So you figured out what tattoo you wanted, found someone worth giving a large amount of money to in lieu of putting a design on your skin for an hour or two, and now you're all done. Your skin is itchy, red, and is now full of a design. And now, you have to learn the lesson of tattoo aftercare -- that is, of course, if you intend on keeping that tattoo as nice as it is right now.
With new tattoos, you need to be careful. There are a few basic tattoo care tips you need to keep in mind during those first two to four weeks after receiving a new tattoo. Don't use any harsh or abrasive cleansers. Keep the area moisturized just enough to make the area shiny a bit, but not so much that the moisturizer doesn't allow the tattoo to breathe. And lotions with fragrances and color should be avoided as well, at least until after the tattoo has healed. But chances are, no matter what you do, a certain amount of scabbing will occur. Don't pick it or peel it off! Just moisturize and look into tattoo ointments.
Sun is one of the worst things for a tattoo, even if it's a tattoo that has been laid into your skin for a very long time. So avoid the sun as much as possible, especially during the healing time after getting a tattoo, and when you're all done, make sure you cover your tattoo well with a heavy-duty sunscreen -- but don't use sunscreen until after your tattoo has healed. Keeping out of the sun can lessen the chances of your tattoo fading prematurely.
Keep contact with water to a minimum. Short showers are a good idea, especially to keep the tattoo clean and to rinse off any excess blood, but taking baths and swimming -- especially in chlorinated pools -- is a very bad idea.
Don't scratch, don't rub, don't peel, and don't wear clothes that are tight in a way that they will cause a large amount of friction on the area where the tattoo was placed. This sort of thing can cause the ink to fleck off; resulting in a splotchy tattoo after the redness has gone down.
Also, be sure to check your tattoo for infection. Even with the precautions taken by tattoo artists these days, it is still important to make sure your skin is healing properly. In many cases, if after a few days, the sensitivity of the tattoo has gotten worse and not better, or the skin remains tender to the touch, it might be a good idea to go have a doctor look at it for you.
All in all, taking care of your tattoo isn't much to ask. And if you can take an hour or more of being stabbed repeatedly with a very tiny electric needle, you should be able to handle paying attention to a healing section of skin. After spending all that time and money on the design, taking care of it is really the least you can do.