Tattoo Cracking: How To Avoid and Treat Tattoo Cracking?

You just got a new tattoo, and everything seems to be going well. But, one day you notice your tattoo is cracking and drying out, and you cannot help yourself but panic. Chances are, you Googled the issue and it has led you right here. Well, if this is you, then you’re at the right place.

Tattoo cracking is completely normal and pretty common when it comes to fresh ink. Even though it might be an alarming occurrence at first, you’ll learn in the following paragraphs that tattoo cracking can be easily avoided and treated.

So, we’ll get into the issue of tattoo cracking, why it occurs, how you can treat it, and most importantly, how you can avoid it in the first place. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Tattoo Cracking: Everything You Need To Know

Why Does Tattoo Cracking Occur?

Tattoo cracking, like almost anything in the world, occurs due to a number of contributing factors. So, to understand its occurrence, we need to understand the causes of the cracking. Here are the most common reasons tattoo cracking occurs;

  • The skin is drying out, or your skin is generally dry – this is one of the most common reasons tattoos crack. Either your skin is naturally dry, which means your daily water intake does not meet the recommended amount of a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day. Or, your tattooed skin isn’t properly moisturized. Hydration and moisturizing of a tattoo are essential during the aftercare; that promotes proper healing and ensures the tattoo doesn’t crack.
  • Formation of scabs during healing – as the tattoo heals, it will start raising and forming scabs. Now, scabs don’t have to be a major issue, since they generally dry out and fall off on their own. However, with a lack of hydration and moisturizing, the scabs can become severe and larger or thicker than usual, which contributes to the cracking of the scabs, and as a result, the cracking of the tattoo.
  • Infection or allergic reaction – although rare, tattoo infection or allergic reaction to tattoo ink can cause tattoo cracking. This means that bacteria or germs have invaded the tattoo, which is at the beginning considered to be an open wound. This required immediate medical attention and proper treatment to prevent further tattoo damage and health issues.
  • You’re cleaning your dry tattoo with warm water – now, this is a major no-no. By washing a dry tattoo with warm water, you’re taking away all the moisture from the skin. This will promote dryness and enable the tattoo cracking, especially if you don’t apply lotion or ointment afterward.

Do not be alarmed by the formation of scabs on the tattoo. This is a normal occurrence as the tattoo is an open wound that needs to heal. One of the parts of the healing process is the regeneration of the damaged skin which can only heal by creating a protective barrier, which is, in this case, scabs,

Now, the scabs will normally crack. However, if you do not moisturize the skin, the scabs will grow larger and thicker, which will lead to the cracking of the tattoo. So, make sure to keep your tattoo hydrated and nourished, and if the scabs start bleeding or causing pain/discomfort, then seek medical attention.

How Can I Treat Tattoo Cracking?

In case your tattoo is cracking, there are a few things you can do as an emergency response. For example;

  • Observe your tattoo and determine whether it is just dry or infected!

Sometimes, self-diagnosis can go wrong pretty easily, but, before you do anything to treat the cracking, you need to analyze your tattoo. Now, if the tattoo is just cracking and visibly dry, or has mild scabbing, then you’re good to go. However, if the tattoo cracking is accompanied by thicker, bleeding scabs, pain, itchiness, or swelling, then you’re dealing with a tattoo infection. In such a case, all you can do is seek medical attention and proper medicine.

  • Do more to keep yourself and your skin hydrated!

Now, if you’re not dealing with an infection, chances are you’re dealing with skin dehydration. This means you’ll have to amp up your skin hydration. You can do this by starting to moisturize your tattoo twice a day, and additionally once after taking a shower. The best moisturizers for this occasion would be the ones that are gentle, fragrance-free, organic, vegan, and based on either shea or cocoa butter.

Also, make sure to keep yourself hydrated overall. Take in a minimum of 8 glasses of water daily, and eat a lot of fruits to keep yourself hydrated. This will make your skin hydrated as well, and not to mention more resilient and stronger in the tattoo healing process.

  • Do not touch the scabs, and don’t even think about peeling them off!

If you think that by removing the scabs your tattoo will be smooth and shiny, you’re wrong. By forcibly removing scabs, you can cause more harm than good. First of all, you can introduce additional bacteria from your fingernails, causing an infection. Then, you can enable severe tattoo cracking by removing the skin’s protective barrier, which is the scabs.

  • Do not shower with hot water!

As we mentioned, showering with hot or warm water can dehydrate the skin and strip it of its natural oils. As a result, your tattoo can start cracking, and it’s not a pretty sight. To prevent that, make sure to shower with lukewarm water. After the shower, do not forget to apply a thin layer of moisturizer to hydrate and nourish the skin.

How Can I Prevent Tattoo Cracking?

To prevent tattoo cracking is pretty easy. Here are some tips and tricks you can utilize to help your tattoo heal smoothly, crack-free;

  • Prior to the tattoo appointment, make sure your skin is well taken care of. Make sure it is well moisturized, shaved, and hydrated. You will improve your skin’s hydration by following the recommended daily water intake and by keeping nourishing and healthy foods.
  • Follow the proper aftercare routine, recommended by your tattoo artist. By doing this, you’ll minimize any tattoo healing issues, including cracking and heavy scabbing. Some of the rules of tattoo aftercare include proper cleaning of the tattoo, moisturizing, and refraining from touching, scratching, or peeling the tattoo.
  • Keep your tattoo properly moisturized. You’ll do this by applying a thin layer of fragrance-free lotion or ointment onto the tattoo, twice a day. You can add an additional layer of lotion after a shower, to help the skin rehydrate faster. This will prevent cracking, heavy scabbing and even minimize itching and discomfort. However, beware not to over moisturize the tattoo, since it can also lead to infection and skin breakout.

Tattoo Cracking FAQs

Why Is My Tattoo Cracking and Bleeding Simultaneously?

There are several reasons why your tattoo’s cracking is accompanied by blood. First of all, blood may occur if your skin is dehydrated and overly dry. In such cases, the scabs can stretch the already damaged skin, which can cause them to break, open the healing skin and cause bleeding.

Scabs act as a protective barrier over the healing skin, so when they break, they can cause bleeding.

Infection of the tattoo can also be the reason why it’s cracking and bleeding. However, an infection is also accompanied by swelling, itching, pain, redness, skin irritation, etc.

When Should Tattoo Cracking Worry Me?

In case your tattoo is cracking, but also bleeding, oozing, swelling, and rashing, you should be worried, because you’re dealing with an infection or an allergic reaction. Either way, you should seek medical help, proper diagnosis, and treatment. If not, you’re risking serious health issues.

Other than this scenario, tattoo cracking shouldn’t worry you. Just keep your tattoo moisturized and your body hydrated. If the cracking doesn’t resolve, then talk to your tattoo artist about a possible solution.

Why Is My Old Tattoo Cracking?

The only time a tattoo cracks is when it’s still new and healing; so, it is pretty uncommon for an old tattoo to start cracking. The only explanation for such occurrence that we have is excessive sun exposure of the tattoo. If you don’t protect your tattoo by applying sunscreen, chances are it will start to fade and age faster, which manifests through cracking of the tattooed skin. To prevent this, make sure to apply sunscreen every time your tattoo is exposed to UV rays.

Final Thoughts

Tattoo cracking is a completely normal occurrence during a tattoo healing process. The cracking almost exclusively happens only in cases of new tattoos, so old tattoos cannot crack. Moreover, it is pretty easily treated, and even more easily avoided. However, if the cracking is accompanied by bleeding, oozing, swelling, pain, and other signs of an infection or allergic reaction, it is time to see a doctor. Other than that, you should be fine; just keep on moisturizing that tattoo.

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