It’s important to remember that tattooing and piercing, while popular among people of all ages, involves breaking one of the body’s main protective barriers—the skin—which in turn can make you more susceptible to skin infections and expose you to the risk of blood-borne diseases.
You can protect yourself by shopping around and looking into the practices of a salon and artist. Make sure that the salon displays a certificate of inspection from the health unit, is clean and well lit, has a sink with hot and cold running water, has single-use towels and liquid soap at hand washing sinks, and has sterilizing equipment on-site that is used on multi-use tools before each use or provides single-use presterile packaged equipment.
Talk to the artist and ask about their experience and training. Ask to see some examples of their work and have them explain how their equipment is cleaned and sterilized. Watch them at work so that you know they wash their hands before and after each client, wear gloves during the procedure and use new, packaged, sterile, piercing and tattooing needles for each client.
After your tattooing or piercing is done, be sure to cut the risk of infection by keeping the area clean. Wash your hands thoroughly before you apply lotions or ointments to the tattooed or pierced area and before rotating jewelry. Follow the written and verbal aftercare instructions from your artist. See your health care practitioner immediately if you see any signs of infection such as redness, swelling, tenderness or heat around the pierced or tattooed area.
For more information about reducing your risk of infection or to discuss infection control practices around tattooing and piercing, call Your Health Connection 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).