Tattoo Cracking – Prevent Your Tattoo from Cracking & Drying

A scaly and cracking tattoo doesn’t have to be a cause of panic.

Many of us get enticed to get inked because of how amazing tattoos tend to look. Of course, the meaning of the piece is always noteworthy. But how tattoos look on others tend to be a major factor in lots of people’s decision to brave getting a piece of skin art or two.

This is why tattoo cracking can be a shocking part of the tattoo healing process. Aside from the fact that skin cracking can be a shocking experience in itself, seeing your tattoo that you’ve possibly gone so much pain and other troubles for crack can also be upsetting.

Don’t fret, though, as there’s a very good reason why tattoos crack. Read on to learn about it.

Tattoo Cracking: The Basics

Tattoo Cracking

Worried what the cracks on your tattoo are? It may look like it but the ink or the actual tattoo itself isn’t the one that’s cracking despite the term. It’s actually the scabs that sit on top of the tattoo since skin art is practically a wound.

Just like regular wounds, tattoos develop scabs to help heal the damaged layer of the skin. It acts as a protective barrier to the exposed layers of the skin, allowing it to heal without any bacteria and other harmful microorganisms messing up the process.

Unlike regular wounds, however, tattoo scabs aren’t always brown in color and thick. In some cases, they just look like fuzzy film on top of the tattoo. Some will be thicker and prominent and those are the ones that usually crack.

Scabs don’t always have to crack, however. But if they get really dry, they will certainly crack. When scabs don’t get enough moisture, they tend to get very tight. This isn’t ideal for the skin because our movements often stretch out the said organ. So when the skin in the area of your tattoo gets pulled and stretched out, it can affect the tightness of the scab. This makes the scab crack, slit, and break apart.

So generally speaking, it’s not necessarily a big deal if tattoos crack. However, it would be better if it doesn’t do so. Because if that’s the case, it means that you’re not taking ample measures to keep your skin and tattoo properly moisturized.

On some occasions, however, infections can also cause tattoos to crack. If harmful bacteria and microorganisms get to your tattoo, the scabbing will not be effective which can easily crack at the slightest provocation. In such cases, you will need to seek medical help.

What to Do When You Tattoo Cracks

So how do you handle a cracking tattoo? Here are some tricks that experts recommend that you try:

1. Determine If It’s Just Because Of A Lack Of Moisture Or An Infection

It’s important to know the cause of the cracking of your tattoo because it will determine the actions you’ll take after. It’s easy to tell them apart, though, so don’t fret.

Infected tattoos often come with pain, itchiness, and some swelling while uninfected tattoos don’t. If your tattoo is infected, see a medical professional right away. If it’s not, proceed to the next steps.

2. Amp Up Your Skin Hydration Efforts.

Since the culprit of your problem is a lack of moisture, the solution is to address the problem. You can do this by:

  • Applying a thin layer of moisturizer more frequently.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Keeping your tattoo away from the sun.
  • Have a healthier diet.

3. Do Not Use Warm Water In Cleaning Your Tattoo

Warm water can dry the skin so it’s best to avoid it entirely if you want to mitigate the cracking and peeling of your tattoo.

4. Do Not Try To Forcibly Remove The Scabs

Doing so will only cause more harm than good to your already cracking tattoo.

Prevent Your Tattoo from Cracking

An important thing to note about the issue of tattoo cracking is the fact that it can be prevented. If you’re just about to get a tattoo and you don’t want your tattoo to crack, here are the steps you should remember to take:

  1. Make sure that your skin is in great shape before you get inked. As some experts say, your tattoo is only as good as the skin it’s on, so it’s best if you can get your skin in good shape before you get a tattoo.
  2. Stay hydrated. This will help ensure that your skin won’t dry out.
  3. Take great care of your tattoo while it’s still very fresh. Some experts say that the first 2 days of your tattoo aftercare routine will determine how well your tattoo will heal. Make sure to keep the ink adequately moisturized to keep it from drying out.

FAQs on Tattoo Cracking

In need of more information about tattoo cracking? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the condition:

Why Does My Tattoo Look Like It’s Cracking?

If your tattoo looks like it’s cracking, it’s possibly because it’s actually cracking. The scab is most likely split apart and broken due to dryness and trauma. In worse situations, it can also be because of an infection that can prevent the scab from completely establishing itself and forming fully on top of the tattoo wound.

Should I Worry About My Tattoo Cracking?

On most occasions, there’s no need to worry about your tattoo cracking. Most people experience it without having any problems with the outcome of their skin art. If your tattoo isn’t very painful, excessively swollen, have rashes and bumps, oozing with pus and fluid discharge, there shouldn’t worry too much about the cracking. It just means that your skin lacks moisture.

If your tattoo has the other aforementioned issues, however, you should see a healthcare provider as it’s possible that your tattoo is infected.

Why Is My Tattoo Cracking And Bleeding?

There are quite a number of possible reasons for your tattoo to crack and bleed. Cracking is often caused by either lack of moisture or an infection. If your skin gets too dry and the wound gets stretched, the scab can break. If your wound underneath isn’t fully healed or if the scab isn’t ready to be removed yet, it can break the skin again and cause bleeding.

An infection, on the other hand, can prevent the completion and proper establishment of scabs. So if they get injured in the process, they can break which can then cause bleeding.

Proper tattoo aftercare can prevent both issues.


Seeing your tattoo crack can really be a scary ordeal. However, it’s not necessarily worth worrying about. It happens to many.

Tattoo cracking can and should be avoided, however. Use our tips above to do so and we can guarantee that your healing process will go smoothly.

About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

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