Getting a tattoo can obviously be a pretty painful process. It is, after all, an experience that includes puncturing your skin with an ink-filled needle to permanently alter its appearance. While God knows there are plenty of regrettable accounts of gettin' inked, tattoos are, IMHO, undoubtedly cool (despite my own fear of getting one). But a lesser known fact about tattoos is the amount of tending to they take after you get one. Since the surface of your skin is irritated and inflamed, it's necessary to keep it safe and away from anything that might make that worse. This definitely includes being cautious about working out after getting a tattoo. While you can safely do it, you're going to want to be careful in considering the kind of exercise you do, and the way it might affect the area of skin you've recently decorated.
FYI, the general protocol after you get a tattoo goes something like this: You want to keep it totally bandaged for an hour after receiving it, then wash it with hot water and a very, very mild soap. Then pat it dry and apply a very mild lotion (there are special tattoo moisturizing products made for this exact situation).
This probably won't come as much of a surprise, but you'll want to continue the process of cleaning your new tattoo very frequently in order to protect your body from infections.
But when it comes to actually working out with your tattoo, you really have to keep all of this in mind. Hot yoga, for example, might not be the best idea in the world because of all that sweat, and anything that causes a lot of friction near your tattoo (think your inner arm while you're going for a run) is also something to be aware of. Swimming, and soaking in water of any kind is completely off-limits until you're all healed up. And of course, as always, working out with your tattoo while in the sun is a major consideration as well. You want to limit sun exposure as much as possible, and keep that sucker nice and lathered with a gentle SPF.
For the most part, a tattoo only takes about a week or two to heal.
So it might be best to alter your normal workout routine just a little bit while your tattoo gets less inflamed, and consider how much contact that part of the skin is getting, as well as how much stretching and sweating you'll be doing. This should go without saying, but definitely clean your the tattoo thoroughly and gently immediately after you're done exercising.
As far as the relationship between sweat and tattoos goes, a recent, interesting piece of research from a small study published in the summer of 2017 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise supports the idea that when you get inked, it actually does impact the organ of your skin in a pretty radical way -- even if you just have a cute little infinity symbol on the inside of your wrist, or an adorable little kitty tattooed behind your ear.
The study found that tattooed skin isn't as capable of sweating normally compared to skin that hasn't been tattooed.
The researchers also found that the actual substance of the sweat coming from the tattooed area was substantially different: There was almost twice as much sodium in the sweat from the tattooed area. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It could mean the body's not releasing as many toxins as usual, but there's not enough research to fully draw that conclusion.
The age of the tattoo (meaning the amount of time a person has had it on their body) also didn't seem to have an impact on the composition of the sweat coming from that area -- they were all extra salty. It's thought that this is because the skin's physiology is permanently changed after you get a tattoo. However, it's worth noting here that the sweat in the study was chemically induced in the participants, rather than naturally caused by an actual hardcore workout.
Overall, there's really not a whole lot of evidence that working out after getting a tattoo will cause too many problems, so you can put your worries at ease. Be sure to keep the area clean as a whistle, and once you're all done healing, show that sh*t off at the gym like the badass you are.