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Think Before You Ink

You're thinking about getting a tattoo and may even have an idea of the design. But have you also considered the health risks involved in getting a tattoo? Before getting inked, take some time, do the research and make an informed decision.

Tattooing can be safe when done by a professional who follows safety guidelines to ensure their health, and the health of their clients is protected. Tattooing can increase your risk of getting blood borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV. Know the risks and consider the following before getting a tattoo:

  • Shop around before you get a tattoo. Get all of your questions answered.

  • Take the time to find a professional and ask how long they have trained.

  • Ask to see a copy of the tattoo shop's last inspection report. The Health Unit regularly inspects tattoo shops and can provide the latest inspection reports as well.

  • Is the shop clean and is there a sink for the operator to wash their hands?

  • Does the operator use a disposable needle out of an unopened package with the seal still attached?

  • Does the operator have an autoclave (if reusable needles are being used) so that you know the equipment is being sterilized?

  • Does the operator disinfect the skin before procedures?

  • Does the operator use new, disposable gloves for each tattooing?

  • Does the operator provide instructions on caring for your new tattoo and a number to call if there is a problem.

It can take up to six weeks for a tattoo to heal. Make sure it is covered with a sterile, non-stick bandage when you leave the tattoo shop. If you must touch your new tattoo, make sure you wash your hands first, and if your tattoo becomes sore, red, swollen or oozes pus see your doctor right away.

To learn more about safe tattooing, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577.

Additional Resources:

Tattoos: Be Safe, Not Sorry - Video, HKPR District Health Unit