Hi there, new to the forum!

I’ve just got a tribal tattoo last Thursday which is solid black and goes from my chest onto my arm.

It’s my second tattoo and my first one is relatively small and on my back.

However, the tribal that I got has started scabbing normally as it should be doing – I’m cleaning it with warm water twice a day and use Bepanthen as recommended by most tattooists but as the tribal is scabbing I can literally see the scabs are as black as the day I got it, but where its healing more, it seems to look more grey, so the outline is still black but the inside is bits of black and bits of grey and it almost looks like some of it has been draw on with pen.

I’ve only had it 5 days so I was wondering how long I should wait before I should say ‘it’s time to go for a touchup’


It’s difficult to answer your question without photographic reference. As a tattoo heals it becomes less vibrant because your skin tone heals into the ink thereby dulling it. This is more noticable in tribal peices than in most precisely because it is solid black.

Tribal can also be particularly difficult to get right as a tattooist. All clients have different skin and in each case the artist has to get the mix of saturation and minimal skin trauma just right otherwise they are exceptionally difficult to heal. If, when your tattoo is fully healed, you can see lots of needle marks this usually means the tattoo hasn’t been applied correctly and you shoud go for a touch up in a month or so. If you see a mottled effect it usually means the tattoo has either not been looked after correctly but in some cases could mean the skin has been overworked.

This idea of warm soapy water twice a day is a biker healing method and quite frankly is a terrible way to heal a tattoo. Warm or hot water and or over bathing a tattoo causes more scabbing which draws more ink out of the skin.

Good luck with the healing anyway. i’m not sure I helped you at all

If I have to tattoo just one more Southern cross this week I WILL kill everyone.

In addition to what Gym said the 5 day mark is probably a good time to go from the Bep and switch to a non scented lotion. I usually make that switch after the 3rd day myself.



Use some non-scented lotion 2-3 times a day just enough to cover it and let it breathe. Most tribal often needs a touch up due to the solid fill and the fact that black is so noticable.

It will not be as vibrant as when first done as will have layers of skin over it – that is natural but too early to gauge the full healing of it at 5 days.

Take Care

The only difference between a person with tattoos, and a person without is this. The person with tattoos does not care if you do not have any.

i would say dont wory too much about it at the moment…. tribal takes longer to heal, and if you are scabbing heavily then it will take a few weeks to heal on the top layers of skin, the skin layers deeper down take much longer to heal, i tell my clients to give it 8 weeks before touch ups on tribal work 😉

you might get what is sometimes known as silverskin covering the tribal, if this happens then dont start to panick… its quite normal during the healing process, once the scabs start dropping off then swap over to the lotion and stop using bepanthen

as matthew has said, it wont be as solid black to look at because the skin grows over the top of the pigment

IF YOU ARE A NEW MEMBER THEN CLICK HERE and introduce yourself out of courtesy
this is a community for interacting not just an index search system for frequently asked questions in the tattoo world….

Hey guys,

thank you all for your replies – bizarrely in between the short time of when I posted this and now, the tattoo has significantly improved. Some of the scabbing is shedding a little bit and I can see it’s looking a lot better.

I’ll check back with my tattoo artist in a few weeks to see if a touchup can be done.

Thanks guys!

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

You must be logged in to create new topics.