When you get a new tattoo, there’s a possibility of experiencing tattoo cracking. As your tattoo begins to heal, a scab forms on the surface. If the skin around the tattoo becomes too dry during this healing process, the scab can crack.

Don’t worry too much if you notice cracks on the scab of your tattoo. It’s actually quite common and part of the normal healing process. To prevent excessive dryness and minimize the risk of cracking, you should follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. By taking good care of your tattoo, you can help ensure a smooth healing process and reduce the chances of cracking.


Causes of tattoo cracking

Tattoo cracking can occur during the healing process, but it can also be a cause for concern if it reaches a certain point. Excessive dryness, thick crusts, or large scabs covering the entire tattoo are signs that something is missing from your aftercare routine.

There are several common reasons for tattoo cracking:

  • Dry skin: One of the most common causes of tattoo cracking is dry skin. If your skin is naturally dry or if you’re not properly moisturizing your tattooed skin, it can lead to cracking. Hydration and moisturization are crucial during the aftercare period to promote proper healing and prevent cracking.

  • Scab formation: As your tattoo heals, it will form scabs. This is a normal part of the healing process. If you let the scabs on your tattoo get really bad, thick, or bigger than usual because you didn’t hydrate or moisturize your skin enough, it can cause your tattoo to crack.

  • Infection or allergic reaction: While rare, tattoo cracking can sometimes be an indication of an infection or allergic reaction to the tattoo ink. In such cases, immediate medical attention is required to prevent further damage and address any associated health issues.

Minor tattoo cracking is generally not a cause for concern unless it is accompanied by signs of infection, such as pus, fever, or other concerning symptoms. We advise you to monitor your tattoo and seek medical attention if necessary.


Tips for Preventing Tattoo Cracking

Before attempting any remedies for the cracking, carefully examine your tattoo. If the cracking is accompanied by visible dryness or mild scabbing, it is likely manageable. However, if the cracking is accompanied by thicker, bleeding scabs, pain, itching, or swelling, it could be an indication of a tattoo infection. In such cases, seeking medical attention and appropriate treatment is necessary.

Preventing tattoo cracking is relatively straightforward. Prioritize proper skin care before getting the tattoo. To ensure your tattoo stays in great condition, it’s important to take a few key steps:

  • Make sure your skin is well-moisturized, shaved, and properly hydrated. Keep up with your daily water intake and include nourishing, healthy foods in your diet to keep your skin hydrated from within.

  • Follow the aftercare routine recommended by your tattoo artist. They know the best techniques to minimize healing issues such as cracking and heavy scabbing. This routine usually involves gentle cleaning, moisturizing, and avoiding any urge to touch, scratch, or peel your tattoo.

  • When it comes to moisturizing, apply a thin layer of fragrance-free lotion or ointment to your tattoo twice a day. After taking a shower, you can add an extra layer to help your skin rehydrate faster. This will help prevent cracking, reduce scabbing, and ease any itching or discomfort. Just remember not to go overboard with the moisturizer, as using too much could lead to infections or breakouts.

  • By following these simple steps, you’ll give your tattoo the best chance to heal beautifully and maintain its vibrant appearance for years to come.


Recommended Products for Tattoo Care

When it comes to caring for your tattoo, using the right products can make a significant difference. Here are some recommended products for tattoo care:

  • Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment Advanced Therapy: A trusted and recommended aftercare product by tattoo artists. It contains petrolatum, which moisturizes the skin and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is scentless and ideal for sensitive skin.

  • Hustle Butter Deluxe: A vegan formula loved by tattoo artists and clients. It reduces irritation, helps maintain and revive tattoo colors, and has received high ratings from thousands of reviewers.

  • Badger Tattoo Balm: An affordable, fragrance-free, and all-natural balm that is gentle on fresh tattoos. It can also be used as an everyday balm for other skin areas. The package art is a fun bonus.

  • Eucerin Advanced Repair Body Lotion: A versatile option suitable for everyday use. It contains ceramides that strengthen and protect the skin. It is unscented and can be used even after the healing process.

  • Billy Jealousy Tattoo Lotion: A slightly more expensive lotion that moisturizes the skin and keeps tattoo colors bright. It has a light scent derived from essential oils and leaves no sticky residue.


Expert Advice for Tattoo Maintenance

If you want to keep your tattoo looking great and avoid problems like cracking, taking good care of it is necessary. Our experts have some tips to help you out. By following their advice, you can keep your tattoo fresh and fabulous!


Aftercare Routine

When you have a fresh tattoo, it’s essential to follow a strict aftercare routine in the initial days. As soon as the wrapping is removed from your tattoo, ensure that you wash and care for it properly. Take the time to cleanse your tattoo, removing any plasma, excessive ink, or blood that may have accumulated. Here are a few tips for the first few days of healing to prevent tattoo cracking:

  • Use lukewarm or cold water to wash your tattoo. Hot water can dry out your skin, so it’s best to avoid it. Additionally, avoid letting your tattoo soak or stay wet for extended periods.

  • Choose a gentle, natural soap without added ingredients or fragrances for washing your tattoo.

  • Always pat your tattoo dry with a paper towel instead of rubbing it. Using a towel can harbor bacteria and is not recommended. Never rub your tattoo dry!

  • After allowing your tattoo to breathe and heal naturally for the first two or three days, start using a fragrance-free moisturizer at least twice a day, particularly after washing it.

  • Unless instructed by a medical professional, refrain from rebandaging your healing tattoo.

While some artists may recommend dry healing, it can lead to severe dehydration during the healing process, which may adversely affect your tattoo. Possible consequences include tattoo distortion and color loss, scarring or severe cracking, raised skin under your tattoo, excessive peeling, and severe cracking of scabs leading to bleeding. Implementing a proper cleaning and aftercare routine from the beginning is crucial to minimize tattoo cracking.



Hydration is paramount for healing and preventing tattoo cracking. If you want to prevent tattoo cracking, prioritize hydration. Apart from moisturizing your healing tattoo regularly, you should stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the first few weeks with your new tattoo. Eating healthier foods will aid in hydration and the healing process, while excessive caffeine or alcohol intake may lead to dehydration, which can have adverse effects on your tattoo. Following are some points to consider while moisturizing your tattoo:

  • Avoid moisturizing over thick scabs until they are completely dry, as this could cause tattoo bubbling.

  • Opt for non-fragranced lotions with natural ingredients.

  • Apply your lotion in thin layers to allow your tattoo to breathe. After application, the lotion should not be visibly present.

  • Moisturize two to four times a day, especially after washing and drying your tattoo.

  • Only apply lotion to dry and clean skin.

  • Before using food-grade oils like coconut oil or cocoa butter, consult your tattoo artist for their advice.

  • Moisturizing should be a part of your aftercare routine, particularly during the winter months when the skin tends to be drier.


Avoid Touching Your Tattoo

Unless you’re washing or applying lotion, keep your hands away from your tattoo. While it’s natural to want to show off your new tattoo, unnecessary touching or picking at it should be avoided. Such actions can disrupt the natural healing process and lead to tattoo cracking.

During the peeling and scabbing stages, which can last several weeks, it may be tempting to peel or pick at the scabs or scratch the tattoo when it becomes irritated. However, it’s important to let the peeling skin, flakes, or scabs fall off naturally. Picking at them may cause tattoo cracking or, worse, distort your tattoo.

We also advise you to refrain from shaving or waxing the tattooed area during these stages. As mentioned before, pat your tattoos dry with a paper towel whenever possible and avoid rubbing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do tattoos crack?

Tattoos can crack because of dry skin or inadequate aftercare. Dry skin makes the tattooed area tight and prone to cracking. Improper care, like not moisturizing or picking at scabs, can also cause cracking. Infections or allergic reactions are rare but can lead to tattoo cracking.

  • How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?

The tattoo healing process varies, usually lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Throughout this time, the tattoo goes through stages like scabbing, peeling, and fading. Following the instructions from your tattoo artist is crucial for proper healing.

  • Can cracked tattoos be fixed?

Cracked tattoos can’t be fixed right away. But with care and moisturizing, the cracks can heal over time. Follow the aftercare routine to keep your tattoo looking fresh.

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