If you're getting ready to go get your first tattoo, here are a few things you should know:

Since tattoos are a healing surface wound, you really should to avoid hot tubs, swimming pools and soaking in bathubs of water during the healing period. Before the surface heals, the skin is susceptible to infection and public pools and water are easy sources of bacteria. Also, the soaking can cause the scab to come off too soon, which can also hurt your new tattoo. So don't go get tattooed the day before that beach vacation or cruise!

Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before your tattoo appointment and be sure to eat a good meal a hour or two ahead of time. The process of enduring being tattooed is more tiring than most people would imagine and it often stresses the body the same way vigorous activity does, even though you aren't being highly active.

Do not drink alcohol or take aspirin before you get tattooed. Both of these thin the blood and can cause you to bleed heavily during the tattoo process.

If you are going to be tattooed for a long time, make sure you have a way of getting home that is safe, or have someone else drive you. Some people become disoriented or a bit fuzzy-headed after long tattoo sessions due to the endorphin rush.

If you have any allergies to antibiotic ointments, latex or petroleum products, be sure to tell your tattoo artist BEFORE they start to do any work on you. That way they can make sure any equipment or products they might use on you will be safe.

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