Cuts, Scratches And Grazes On A Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on July 15, 2018
    Last Updated: May 17, 2023

Getting a brand new tattoo is a hugely exciting experience for most people – especially when you’ve been waiting in anticipation for your tattooing session for what seems like a lifetime.

Sometimes, though, the aftercare process doesn’t always go according to plan, and for whatever reason, you may have an accident which leads to cutting or grazing your new work of art.

Getting a cut on your tattoo can be extremely worrying; the last thing you want is for your tattoo to become permanently blemished.

However, there are many variables that dictate how much damage a cut or graze will actually do to your ink, and there are many times when you won’t have to worry about any long-term damage being done to your tattoo at all.

Getting a Cut on a New Tattoo Can Cause:

Increased Healing Times

A cut can lead to your already-damaged and healing tattooed skin becoming even more damaged. This can, in turn, cause your tattoo to take longer to heal.

Excess Scabbing

Cutting or grazing your tattoo can cause areas to bleed, which often leads to scabbing.

Heavily Scabbing Tattoo

Scabbing is not normally too much of an issue as long as the scabs aren’t prematurely ripped off, as this can lead to loss of ink and patchiness in the tattoo.

Visual Blemishes

A deep cut or graze can pull ink away from the tattoo, leading to patchiness, fading, and even scarring if the cut is deep enough.

old tattoo scar


A cut in the already-wounded skin can make the area even more vulnerable to germs and bacteria, which can go on to cause an infection if the wound isn’t properly cleaned.

Factors That Will Define How Much Damage a Cut or Graze Can Do

How New The Tattoo Is

Unsurprisingly, the newer the tattoo is, the more sensitive it is going to be.

When a tattoo is first created, it is essentially just a large open wound. Therefore, you should do your very best to protect it while it heals over the first 2-3 weeks.

If you graze or cut a tattoo that is still healing, you are much more likely to cause lasting damage.

Your skin is already trying hard to heal the trauma caused by the needles during the tattooing process, and any additional damage is likely to further reduce your skin’s healing abilities, leading to possible long-term damage, such as scarring.

As the tattoo slowly heals, the less amount of lasting damage a cut will likely cause to the area. This is because as time passes, the ink begins to set in place under the lower layers of skin, and the upper layers begin to regenerate. This means the cut has less of a chance of reaching the important layers of a tattoo.

If you cut or graze a tattoo that has fully healed and has aged for at least a few months, then a small amount of damage shouldn’t affect the tattoo at all.

The skin over the area will be completely regenerated and will be fully protecting the tattoo below it.

Any surface cut or graze will likely look worse than it actually is, and should do no lasting damage to your ink.

How Deep The Cut/Graze Is

As mentioned above, once your tattoo is healed, most minor scratches and cuts should not affect your tattoo in the slightest in the long term.

However, the deeper the cut goes, the more of a chance it has at leading to permanent damage.

Even though the cut may not go right down to your tattoo, it can still cause enough damage to the tissue above the tattoo for areas of the skin to scar.

When your tattoo is new and still healing, a scrape or cut of any depth can cause potentially permanent damage to a tattoo because the skin is still extremely sensitive at this point.

How Much Bacteria Got Into The Wound

When you cut your skin, you are creating an opening for nasty germs and bacteria to enter. If you cut yourself with something that is dirty/unsanitary then you have more of a chance of contracting an infection, which can affect the appearance of a tattoo if it isn’t treated fast enough.

If you believe your tattoo may have become infected, then it’s always best to consult a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you get treatment, the less chance there is of permanent visual damage being caused to the tattoo by the infection.

How Well You Care For Your Tattoo

After cutting your tattoo, you should treat it with the utmost care.

You should ensure you clean it straight away, and continue to wash the area often to minimize the risk of infection. You should also protect the area as best as possible from further cuts or knocks.

Finally, keep the skin well-nourished and moisturized to ensure it’s in the best condition possible to heal quickly and efficiently.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​ Click here to buy from Amazon.

How Good Your Skin/Body Is At Healing

Some people are just genetically better at fully recovering from skin damage than others.

The more effective your immune system is at protecting you, the quicker and more efficiently you are likely to heal.

You can help to ensure your wound heals as quickly as possible by getting good sleep, drinking adequate amounts of water, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

What to Do if a Cut or Graze Has Damaged Your Tattoo

Before worrying too much and jumping to conclusions, you should wait at least 2-3 weeks after cutting/damaging your tattoo before confirming whether there has been any lasting effect to the area.

Cuts and grazes can take quite a while to recover, and while they may initially look bad, they very often disappear without leaving any lasting damage – even on tattoos.

However, if you discover a cut or graze has in fact left some scarring, fading or blemishing on your tattoo, then you should consult your tattoo artist as they will be best at deciding what the next best move will be.

If the leftover damage is small enough, a good artist should be able to cover it up so it blends in better with the rest of the tattoo.

One More Time…

Do not worry if you cut, graze or otherwise slightly damage a tattooed area of skin. Your skin is remarkable and can overcome many various scenarios unscathed.

A cut on an older tattoo very often clears up without leaving any lasting damage whatsoever.

Even if you cut or graze a new tattoo, it has every chance of fully recovering without leaving a single trace that it ever happened.

Take every cut, bump, scratch and graze as it comes, and most of the time your tattoo will pull through while still looking perfect.

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