Most people stop after they’ve picked out their artist, ink, and stencil. They expect the aftercare instructions to come from the artist and don’t look into it. So, you can often find your tattoo cracking, or drying up and not knowing how to treat it.
Cracking and drying tattoos can be prevented or treated by keeping the skin moist and supple. You can use Polysporin, Neosporin, Lanacane, Keri Lotion, and vitamin E oil to treat the skin. Avoiding the sunlight and picking or scratching your tattoo scabs will also aid the healing process.
If you want to know how to prevent your tattoo from cracking and drying, it’s essential to know and avoid the causes. I’ve explained all the common causes and the solutions here, so hopefully, you’ll find what you need.
Why Does a Tattoo Crack and Dry Up?
You can experience cracking and drying issues with your tattoo if it lacks moisture. Tattooing is a systematic way of stabbing ink into your skin, and it creates a wound. So, the skin cannot take care of itself as well as usual.
Cracking and drying are typically expressions of multiple problems happening at the same time. The tattoo itself doesn’t crack, the scabbing on the surface of the skin breaks away. This is normal, so if you see cracks, don’t become alarmed immediately.
There are 3 common reasons why you’ll see cracks or a dried-out tattoo.
- Excessive Scabbing.
- Drier skin.
Scabbing is normal when you get a tattoo. But the presence and size of scabs depend on a few factors.
- How carefully you were tattooed. Deep stabs and bad angles will cause more scabs.
- If you had alcohol in your blood, it could have caused difficulty tattooing. You will also have trouble healing, causing more scabs.
- A few people form more scabs than most.
As scabs dry, they raise. The expansion can cause cracks if your skin is too dry. You’ll also experience discomfort and a stretching sensation in extreme cases.
If you don’t keep your skin moisturized enough after tattooing, it can crack and dry up. You might also have naturally dry skin. It would be more difficult to keep moist and be more prone to cracking.
Another reason may be the environment is too dry. If there’s not enough moisture in the air, or it’s too hot, then your tattooed skin can dry up and crack easier.
It’s rarer, but your tattoo can crack and dry up due to an infection. Your tattoo is effectively an open wound. If you don’t take good care of it, it can get infected.
Not maintaining proper hygiene, not disinfecting, and sanitizing before touching the tattoo can result in bacteria and germs accessing the wound. In such cases, you will have some additional symptoms with cracking and drying.
- Pus oozing out.
- Itching and burning sensation.
- Feeling feverish.
- Pungent odor.
If you suspect that the tattoo has become infected, seek medical attention immediately.
How to Prevent Cracking and Drying?
It’s quite simple to prevent your tattoo from cracking and drying. There’s no intensive aftercare or recovery after most tattoos. Here’s what you should include in your aftercare.
- Keep the tattooed area moisturized.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Avoid the sun.
Dehydration is another big issue that can cause cracking and drying. So, make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. Alcohol causes dehydration too, so don’t drink while the tattoo is healing or at least 48 hours after the procedure.
Make sure to avoid the sun. Direct exposure to sunlight can encourage drying, and cause sunburns on the tattooed area. If you have to go out, use a high SPF sunscreen. Reapply the sunscreen while under the sun every two hours, or if you soak the skin.
There are some more guidelines you should follow to prevent cracks and dry skin. These won’t directly affect the issues but can expedite the condition.
- Don’t keep the bandage on for more than 24 hours.
- Do not pull off the bandage if it’s stuck to the tattoo area. Soak the area with water, and then slowly peel it off.
- Only use soap to wash your tattooed skin after 8 hours have passed.
- Only use mild soap to wash the area. Don’t rub the tattoo while cleaning.
- Don’t directly spray jets of water on the area.
- Don’t wear any clothing over the tattoo area if possible. If not, make sure the clothing won’t rub against it.
- Don’t use petroleum jelly on the tattooed skin.
- Don’t swim in rivers, public pools, or lakes. Your tattoo can get infected.
Pulling bandages and agitating the tattooed area can lead to more scabbing. And excessive scabbing can lead to cracks.
How to Deal with a Cracking Tattoo?
If your tattoo is cracking already follow these instructions.
- Don’t pull on the scabs or cracks.
- Don’t poke or prod at the tattooed skin.
- Moisturize more frequently.
Be gentle with your tattooed skin if it’s cracking. Some people tend to worry and pull at the cracks thinking it’ll expedite the healing. It does the opposite and can cause you serious pain.
Contact your artist or a doctor for a higher strength product. Also, take note of anything that could cause dryness and cracking. You can cross-check with the causes provided here and avoid any you find.
It’s natural to want to prevent your tattoo from cracking and drying. But if you do see your tattoo cracking, it’s not an immediate cause for concern. It’s normal for tattoos to crack a little, due to the scabbing from the procedure.
So, if you see your tattoos crack, don’t panic. You can often find the causes and easily deal with them yourself. In most cases, moisturizing, hydration, and hygiene will work wonders for the healing process.