Neosporin on Tattoo: Effects and How to Use

People often wonder if it is okay to use Neosporin on tattoo.  Especially if it is new, most people get the ideas that using Neosporin on a tattoo will be useful and aid better results. A tattoo is a skin art that can be drawn anywhere on the skin, the first line of action after getting one would be to get equipped with the best aftercare products to use in order to keep it healthy.

Some tattoo artist are of the opinion that people should totally avoid the use of Neosporin on their tattoos while  others are of the opinion that they should.  However, that is not the case. What determines whether it is a good antibiotic for tattoos or not are the effects they exhibiting on the tattoo itself.

Generally, using Neosporin on a tattoo is not the best option as it does not moisturize the skin. Infact it can actually lead to a delay in the healing of the wound. This article will look at what Neosporin is, the possible side effects of Neosporin on tattoo as well as the alternative to Neosporin.

What is Neosporin 

 Neosporin  is an antibiotic medication used to reduce the risk of infections following minor skin injuries like burns, cuts. It is mostly referred to as a triple antibiotic medication because its composition is made up of a combination of three antibiotics namely:

  • Neomycin,
  • Bacitracin,
  • Polymyxin

Neomycin: Neomycin is an antibiotic that is used to prevent bacterial infection mostly in the intestines.Neomycin is sometimes given with another antibiotic.

Bacitracin: This medication is an antibiotic that is used reduce the risk of infections on cuts,burns and scrapes.  It  does this as it stops the growth of bacteria on these injuries. Bacitracin is purely an anti-bcterial medication and will not be useful in fighting viral or fungal infection. 

Polymyxin: This is also an antibiotic. Gram-negative bacteria is better combated with  Polymyxins B and E also referred to as colistin. They do so by attacking the cell membrane of the bacteria and breaking it up. This is therefore perfect combination for fighting bacteria in an open sore or wound. Neosporin are commonly used to treat skin infections that are as  result of burns, cuts and scrapes. They aid the quick recovery of wounds.


Can I Put a Neosporin on Tatoo

Neosporin is not recommended for a new  tattoo. When you get a new tattoo, your skin is still very much vulnerable, the Neosporin may keep it safe from infections but it will also hinder due recovery as it is not an ideal environment for the tattoo cuts.

In other words, it doesn’t always allow for an ideal healing environment. Introduction of antibiotics will trigger a lot of responses together with the fact that the jelly-like nature of the  Neosporin will alter recover. Other tattoo ointments as recommended by the tattoo artist would serve much better than Neosporin. 


While Neosporin is an antibiotic, a tattoo is basically achieved by making cuts  on the surface of the skin using a device and filling it with ink for an aesthetic look. When Neosporin is applied over a tattoo, there are some  reactions they pose to the skin and they include:

Fading Tattoo and Scars: If you’re going to use Neosporin on your tattoo, one of the things you will lose is the beauty of the tattoo itself. Once the Neosporin causes the tattoo to scab, the scabs in turn pulls the ink on the tattoo and make it lose its color. Scarring can also occur in the process, this leaves your tattoo unattractive and betrays the purpose to which it was made in the first place. 

Red Bumps and Rashes: Some skin types are very sensitive and can spark up allergic reactions on a new tattoo due to the use of Neosporin. One of which be red bumps. The bumps are formed when the skin absorbs the heavy antibiotics and rejects it. Bumps are not the same as tattoo bubbling; tattoo bubbling occurs where the scabs become saturated with water. Rashes and hives could also form as  result this
Increased risk of infection This is one of the side effects that comes with applying Neosporin on your new tattoo.

How can Neosporin possibly cause an infection on a tattoo if it is an antibiotic

Now, the Neosporin is a jelly like product and as such,does not give room for the cuts to receive oxygen and be well moisturized. Normally, the skin would need enough oxygen to recover from the tattoo cuts but the Neosporin rather blocks the cut from receiving the needed oxygen for recovery and would easily lead to infection.


The first thing you should keep in mind is that Tattoos don’t heal overnight, they take about two to three weeks to heal and it can take months to fully recover. So carefully taking care of your tattoo and avoiding any form of harsh treatment is necessary. It is recommended to use ointment made especially made for tattoos. You don’t want to ruin the tattoo after all.


1. Cover it up: The tattoo should be well covered with bandage. This is usually one of the first thing  tattoo artist does after drawing a new tattoo. This is done so as to prevent the tattoo from getting infected as well as prevent  it from rubbing on surfaces which may irritate it. The bandage will also serve as an absorber of any fluid  from the tattoo. It will be kept on for as long as the tattoo artist suggests.

2. Gently wash the tattoo: After a few hours, the covering may be removed.  To wash it, you must ensure your hands are clean by first washing it with soap and water. Then you proceed to gently wash the tattoo with soap and warm water. Dry the skin softly. To keep the tattoo moisturized, a small amount of moisturizer that is not alcohol based cab be applied. You can decide to keep off the covering at this point so that the tattoo receives enough oxygen

3. Wait for it to Heal: Like we established earlier, tattoos don’t heal overnight. You must give it time to heal. Here are some things you should note while your tattoo heals:

  • Avoid exposing the tattoo to too much sun by wearing sun-protective clothing when going out.
  • Incase of any reactions or infections, contact  your tattoo artist or physician 
  • Do not apply sunblock to your tattoo until it has healed properly
  • Try not to scratch or pick at the tattoo Wear  loose clothings over the tattoo Swimming when the tattoos are not fully healed is not advised.


If Neosporin on tattoo is not an ideal aftercare treatment , what other ointments can I use then for my tattoo?  We’ll be listing some of these products you can use on your tattoo instead of Neosporin.

1. Aquaphor Healing Ointment: This ointment ensures the tattoo stays hydrated, moisturized and vibrant. It is widely used and easily recommended by tattoo artists. It keeps the tattoo healthy and promotes healing. The Aquaphor ointment costs about $6-$8.

2. Tattoo Goo: Has been used over the years as an aftercare ointment. It is rich in vitamin B5. Keeps the skin moisturized, prevent scabbing and makes the colors more clear. It is suitable for all skin types  and cost $8.

3. Mad Rabbit Repair Soothing Gel: This gel not only aids healing but also provides a cooling sensation when applied to the tattoo. It contains aloe vera, vitamin C and argan oil. It costs $22.

4. After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer and Aftercare lotion: This is a natural aftercare product that hydrates the tattoo and enhances the look of the tattoo. It contains grape seed oil and is a very good moisturizer.

5. Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil: Although this product is useful for other purposes, it is a perfect aftercare choice for tattoos. It is suitable for all skin types and contains pure coconut oil. This lotion costs about $7-$8. If you Don’t use tattoo cream and ointments at all, it is possible to develop dry and tight skin. This could further cause itching and discomfort at the site of the tattoo.


Tattoos can be fun and exciting, but they are also injuries. It is important we are careful in how we treat them to get the perfect skin  art we desire. While we have seen that Neosporin on tattoo is not the best option, if you must use it, you must make sure it is in a very minute quantity , usually a pea sized amount is recommended.Also proper care has to given for prompt results.

There are also other tattoo ointments which serve as better aftercare options for the tattoo, since they are less harsh to the tattoo, they are preferred to be used on tattoos.


1.”Can You Use Neosporin On A Tattoo? – Authority Tattoo”
2. “Can You Put Neosporin on a Tattoo? – INKEEZE”

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