Stick and Poke Aftercare: How to Care for Your New Tattoo

The hand poke tattooing process doesn’t stop when you finish poking. Here are some key steps you should follow to safely and effectively treat your stick n poke tat.

This is how you protect your tattoo from the sun (photo credit: Nano @pontotattoo)

Finally, the ink design you’ve had in your head for months has now become a reality in the form of a stick and poke tattoo, and your skin is sporting a cool new homemade piece.

However, the hand poke tattooing process doesn’t stop when you finish poking. The stick and poke aftercare process is just as important as the quality of the materials you use, so you have to follow the right steps to ensure that your tattoo looks great.

Stick and Poke Aftercare Tips for New Tattoos

Aftercare advice will vary from source to source, and sometimes even the same source will have different ideas of what heals best. Find reliable instructions from reputable sources – such as this blog – in order to get the best stick and poke aftercare tips.

Here are some key stick and poke aftercare steps you should follow to safely and effectively treat your new tattoo.

Cover Up Your New Tattoo With A Bandage

Your home-made tattoo is a wound and open flesh is a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. The bandage protects your stick and poke tattoos while allowing body fluids to drain.

Most sources of advice will tell you basically the same: to leave the covering on the tattoo for the first two to five hours, then to carefully remove it and gently wash the tattoo with lukewarm water and mild liquid soap, like Carex.

Let It Breath and Keeping Clean

The area needs exposure to air for the skin to heal properly, so remove the bandage for four to six hours. Gently wash the tattooed area with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap. Pat it dry with a towel, and air it dry. Washing too often can damage the tattoo, so take it easy.

Keep the hand poke tattoo dry for a couple of hours and avoid soaking it in water for at least a month. Showers are alright, but baths are not.


After you air dry the area, apply a thin layer of moisturizer. You can opt for an unscented moisturizing cream like Hustle Butter and leave your new ink open to the air. Generally, you should repeat the cleaning process 3-5 times a day, and never let the tattoo dry, but without applying too much moisturizer. Optionally, you can use a protective tattoo film and simplify the whole process.

Good salves help enhance the color, promote healing, and won’t clog pores. Combining the salve with a non-scented, hypoallergenic lotion will keep your skin properly hydrated. Professional artists generally have a preference when it comes to which product works best.

Natural, vegan, and cruelty-free aftercare balms work great. Forgetting to apply an aftercare product can damage the tattoo, so include this as part of your stick and poke aftercare regime.

Whatever your choice may be, make sure to wash and moisturize as part of your stick and poke aftercare regime for a minimum of seven to ten days.

Hand poked red heart tattoo by Belpoke. source

Dressing Appropriately

Keeping the tattoo exposed to open air is crucial to the healing process, so try to wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing that will not rub against the tattoo, especially during the first two to three days.

If your clothes are likely to rub on it, keep it covered with gauze/clingfilm and medical tape, or as said in the previous point, use a protective tattoo film.


It is natural for the skin around the tattoo to scar and peel. To prevent the risk of infection and color loss, do not scratch or pick at the area. Allow it to fall off naturally.

If itching occurs, gently tap on the area to help relieve the symptoms without damaging the tattoo.

Be Patient With Healing Times

Healing times depend on how well you heal and the size of the design. It’s usually a week or two for simple, small minimalist stick and poke designs.

Keep following your aftercare instructions for as long as you need, and make sure the tattoo is kept well-moisturized and clean for a good few months after that, avoiding abrasive skin products.

Do Not Scratch!

As the tattoo heals, it may scab or flake slightly. Avoid picking at it, as this may remove the ink in that area and lead to patches fading or being removed altogether. If it itches, don’t scratch, but tap it lightly instead.

This should only last for the first few weeks or so. If it stays raised, itches uncontrollably, is red around the design, keeps bleeding for more than a day or so after having it done, or is continuously hot to the touch, seek medical advice. If you take the right measures Infected tattoos are very rare but can happen, and it’s always worth getting it checked out if you’re worried about it.

Hand poked ‘vice’ tattoo by Kumkhat. source

What to Avoid

Stick and poke aftercare doesn’t stop at the cleaning process. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to avoid after you get a fresh stick and poke:

  • Don’t leave the bandage on for too long
  • Don’t shave the area
  • Avoid the beach, swimming pools, and hot tubs
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Pets

Side-Effects to Look Out For

Your tattoo should heal in two to three weeks. Consult a physician if any signs or symptoms develop such as the following: redness at the site, green/yellow discharge, and/or fever.

Retouching the Stick and Poke (If Needed)

If you do lose ink, you can always retouch your new tattoo after you’ve completed your stick and poke aftercare regime. Generally speaking, after about 6 weeks, retouch the tat if you need touch-ups on any area of your new handmade ink.

If you want to learn more, stay tuned to our blog or get in touch and find out how to get your own stick and poke tattoo kit.