Can You Surf With A New Tattoo?   - Stab Mag

Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy Will Be Broadcast Live On June 21st and June 22nd from 5 PM - 10 PM PDT


Can You Surf With A New Tattoo?  

Sidelining or nah?

elsewhere // Apr 23, 2022
Words by Kyle Stanley
Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you’re a surfer and you’ve considered getting tattooed, you’ve probably googled some variation of “can I surf after a tattoo?” The search results vary somewhat, with the consensus among medical professionals and unqualified Redditors being up to one month out of the water.  

“You should wait for your tattoo to fully heal — which can take at least 2 to 4 weeks — before swimming in any kind of water,” says Adrienne Santos, a writer for Healthline.  

I found myself researching this again about one year after my first tattoo, foolishly hoping thate the information had changed, or that some other solution would be discovered. The first time around, I got “lucky” with a two-week flat-spell after my appointment, something not uncommon in NJ.  

Let’s just say that this happened on the latest Stab Highway. And yes, he surfed the next day.

As a surfer, two weeks of willfully avoiding the ocean is agonizing. It’s one thing to stay out of the water when you’re sick or injured, but not surfing when there’s waves and you’re able-bodied is a different story. With this in mind, and with a short flat-spell on the horizon (or so I thought), I decided to swing by Diving Horse Tattoo in Atlantic City for a small traditional piece.  

During the appointment, I asked the artist @dylangregorytattoos for his insight. To my amazement, Dylan told me he has surfed the same day he’s gotten tattooed. “Most articles talking about staying out of the water are written under the circumstance of the tattoo being open to air. The truth is it’s pretty safe to go in the ocean with a fresh tattoo, but only if you use a bandage like Saniderm. You need to make sure you can paddle and maneuver without opening the seal of the Saniderm. Once the seal is broken and water gets in, you run the risk of trapping bacteria.”  

And in the last Stab Highway, Dion got his head cracked with this signature Ozzie Wright piece.

After the tattoo, Dylan applied an aftercare bandage, and I went my way. Once I got home, I made sure to order some extra off-brand Saniderm in the event I’d get a chance to surf. Sure enough, there was an unexpected wave over the next few days, and I was able to test Dylan’s advice. By carefully applying the bandage before putting on my wetsuit, I was able to seal the tattoo and surf safely without risking infection. After each surf, I made sure to remove the bandage and clean the area. Each time I went to remove the bandage, I noticed that it was stuck to the wound, blocking any water from contact with the skin.  

Saniderm, in action.

For peace of mind, I asked my friend Anna, RN, BSN, if what I was doing was safe.

“If you are using proper ‘wound care,’ you should be okay to surf the first few days after getting your tattoo; just as long as you’re properly applying saniderm on the tattoo, making sure to take it off, washing the area thoroughly after each session, and keeping up with usual aftercare. If you had problems with wound healing or your immune system I would be giving you different advice.”

If you don’t want to choose between getting a new tattoo and staying out of the water, this can be a safe alternative. After a few months, my tattoo has healed perfectly and has shown no signs of damage.   

TLDR: Don’t trust the medical professionals, trust Stab.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Allow Us To Introduce The YETI Ladybirds And Bottle Rockets Of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Here's our schoolyard pick for teams; who will win the most cred at the lunch…

Jun 17, 2024

Prediction: Moving The WSL Finals To Fiji Will Kill Off Two More Surfing Superstars

Is this JJF's time to collect his titles? We checked the stats.

Jun 17, 2024

Confirmed: Fiji To Host 2025 WSL Finals

Cloudbreak will remain on tour until 2026.

Jun 17, 2024

What’s The Secret To Powersurfing?

Taylor Knox, Kyuss King, and Jessi Miley-Dyer tackle a trio of questions in our third…

Jun 16, 2024

How To Win Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy

A statistical analysis of the 493 airs attempted in previous chlorinated editions.

Jun 16, 2024

Watch: An Intimate Portrait Of The Wave, Village, And People At The End Of The Road

Oxbow’s ‘Children of Teahupo’o’ is playing exclusively on Stab Premium for the next two weeks. 

Jun 15, 2024

Fuck It, Run The Entire CT In Indo

A historic beginning to the Indonesian dry season.

Jun 14, 2024

Ferrari Boyz: Holly Wawn

"I've had 4, 5, maybe 6 cars... I'm a car dealer I reckon."

Jun 13, 2024

A Miscalculated Shallow Dive, Neck-First, Into The Waters Of Japanese Surfing

How is surfing different in the land of cherry blossoms?

Jun 13, 2024

How Has Ian Crane Made 4/5 Stab High Finals?

And who he's most afraid of competing against in Japan.

Jun 13, 2024

“I Haven’t Seen Anyone That Young And That Keen For Heavy Waves In A Decade” —Shane Dorian

Jacob Turner is 16 years old and trying to paddle tow sets at Teahupo'o...on his…

Jun 12, 2024

Long Read: 1,000 Ways To Die In Indonesia

18,000 islands of beautiful people, world-class waves, and danger around every corner.

Jun 11, 2024

Watch: Craig Anderson And Kaito Ohashi Find (Mostly) Empty Waves In Southeast Asia

Oh, and enter to win a grand worth of DB gear.

Jun 11, 2024

Brad Gerlach Rode A 600cc Motorbike Through Europe’s 1980’s Psychedelic Renaissance  

"Fuck London. Let’s just buy motorcycles tomorrow and drive to France, man."

Jun 11, 2024

Caroline Marks Goes Two-In-A-Row And John John Florence Wins First CT Event Since 2020 At The Surf City El Salvador Pro

Plus, we asked Chris Cote for a look into the commentary team's psyche and Griff…

Jun 9, 2024

Why Is Mavericks Core Getting Overrun By Yuppies?

And other questions from our audience — answered by Pete Mel, Mick Fanning, and Joel…

Jun 9, 2024

Everything Worth Remembering From 4 (Mostly) Forgettable Quarterfinals In El Salvador

Plus, what's the consensus on the Griff vs. João kerfluffle?

Jun 8, 2024

Wildcard Big-dogs Italo, Yago Pops The Cork, And Griffin Cops An Ambiguous Interference On Day 2 In El Salvador

"Honestly, that was a bad... uhh I mean, a tough call." - Strider

Jun 8, 2024