To the original poster- don't panic just yet.
What ended up on your sheets is not ink running straight out of the tattoo. The clingfilm your artist put over the tattoo will cause a little sweating underneath, and this mixes with albumen and excess ink released from the tatto. Don't worry, its natural. This continues for a little while when the clingfilm comes off, and that's why a lot of people either cover their tattoo again for the first night, or try to avoid sleeping on the tattoo or wearing anything that is going to stick to it.
OK, there are about a bizillion methods of aftercare, so inevitably you are going to get advice which runs contrary to what your artist has told you to do. There is a school of though which says keeping that tattoo covered beyond the first day is bad, and vice versa. If you're going to reapply a covering then be aware that the tattoo is going to keep sweating and a certain amount of gunk is going to come out of the skin. It doesn't mean you're losing colour from the tattoo.
Aftercare is often made more complicated than it needs to be.
Whether you're reapplying a dressing or not, you need to wash the tattoo gently with hot water and mild soap a few times a day. This is almost an adequate aftercare for the first few days in its own right. But people fixate on what lotion to put on, what moisturiser and when etc. ad nauseum. Pat dry with a clean towel.
If you're using Savlon, then that's fine. I've used it and thousands of other people do. Don't second guess yourself and change. None of its ingredients should cause discoloration (its the ones with lanolin which are more likely to do that). The only problem with savlon is that it tends to dry the skin out, and I find that two days of it is enough, and then I move on to a frangrance-free mosituriser. Whatever you apply, be aware that if your hands aren't clean then whatever you are spreading on the tattoo actually becomes a vehicle for spreading possible infection. So wash your hands.
Apart from keeping the thing clean by washing with soap and water, there are general pointers you're probably already familliar with. Wear something cotton that is easy on the tattoo. Don't pick at it. Don't soak it in water by getting in a bath, or sticking it under a shower with a lot of pressure. Don't exercise heavily or you'll sweat a lot and achieve the same effect. Equally, don't over-moisturise or you'll achieve the same thing, and put on enough and you'll create a barrier against the air and clog pores, which could cause infection and inhibit healing. Keep moisturising for up to two yeeks. Keep it out of the sun for the first two weeks, and even after that with any tattoo you need sunblock to prevent fading.
So once again, don't panic. Your body is good at healing. The only thing I'd seriously worry about is any sign of infection. Worst case scenario, go in to your tattooist and get him or her to take a look. Ultimately if there is a problem then you'll be going back asking them for a touch-up, so might as well keep them in the loop.
Last edited by Scramble; 15-03-2006 at 17:12.