Can You Play Hockey After Getting a Tattoo? (Answered!)

can you play hockey after getting a tattoo

So you got a little ahead of yourself and decided to get a tattoo in the middle of your season and aren’t sure what to do. I’ve been there.

You’re probably wondering if you made a mistake and are worried playing in your upcoming game will irritate the skin and damage the tattoo you just spent so much money getting.

Can you play hockey after getting a tattoo? A new tattoo needs to be given a minimum of one week to heal before participating in contact sports like hockey. This practice protects your new tattoo from discoloration and your skin from irritation.

Remember, your new tattoo is essentially an open wound and any bacteria introduced to it runs you the risk of infection. I’ve seen tattoos after they’ve become infected and trust me you do not want to be dealing with a situation like that.

Why playing hockey with a fresh tattoo is a bad idea

Playing hockey with a fresh tattoo is a bad idea, here a few reasons why.


Be honest, how often do you even wash your equipment? Personally, I wash my gear once, maybe twice during a season. That’s a lot of time in between for bacteria to build up.

Once you start sweating during an intense game, that bacteria can find its way to the area you’ve just received your new tattoo and cause you nothing but discomfort and problems.

Friction & Ink Loss

When you’re hustling down the ice to beat out an icing, your gear is rapidly rubbing against your skin, whether you feel it or not. If your new tattoo is on your shoulder, for example, your shoulder pads would be rubbing against it, causing friction that could potentially cause damage to the tattoo.

Your tattoo artists isn’t going to be happy when you inevitably have to go back to get it touched up because you didn’t follow his advice.

Pain & Discomfort

Suck it up and play, most of us have heard that our whole lives growing up playing hockey. The fact remains, playing hockey with a new tattoo isn’t a fun time especially if it’s very recent and the skin is still tender. One awkward hit, and you’re in a world of hurt.

I played probably my worst stretch of hockey after I got my tattoo because I was trying to protect it rather than focusing on the game.

Sweating with a new tattoo

Minor to mild sweating rarely ever has an impact on a new tattoo. The problem with hockey is, we sweat so much. Constant sweating over the time it takes to finish a game of hockey can lead to ink loss, irritation and infection in your new tattoo.

How long should you wait after a new tattoo to play hockey?

You should wait until the tattoo is completely healed before hitting the ice. This can take 2-3 weeks and is why many players opt to get their new tattoos in the off-season.

Waiting this amount of time may not be an option for you depending on where you are in your current season, so if possible, wait a minimum of one week before getting back on the ice.

IF you find yourself in a situation where you need to play just a few days after getting a new tattoo, here are some things you can do to help protect the tattoo:

  • Wrap your tattoo
  • Avoid compression clothing
  • Wear loose fitting clothing under your gear
  • Be sure your clothing and gear are CLEAN
  • If possible, clean the tattooed area between periods

But again, it is highly recommended you do not play contact sports, including hockey so soon after your new tattoo.

Final thoughts

Chances are if you’re reading this you already got the tattoo with a game coming up and are wondering if you made a mistake, well, you kind of did! But it’s alright, it’s a mistake I made too. If possible, try and sit out and get back on the ice a week from now, or, be extra cautious and be sure to wash your gear before you play.

If you are here because you’re thinking about getting that sweet new tattoo in the middle of your season, just wait. Seriously, your skin and the tattoo artist will still be there after your season, when you’ll have tons of time to let it heal properly.