Humans have adorned their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. Even the Iceman, whose remains are about 5,200 years old, was so marked.
Why, then, is tattooing viewed with raised eyebrows by parents and secret longing by our youth?
As parents, we’ll put aside the whole “It’s a lifelong commitment and that cute butterfly on your arm is going to go all funhouse mirror on you when you’re old!” thing, and concentrate on questions of health.
We can’t speak for the secret longing of youth because those years have evaporated into the ether for us.
So, the health of it…
Those tattoos aren’t painted on. Your skin is punctured and the ink injected underneath. Because of this, you may end up with severe and long-lasting itching, skin infections, or even HIV, hepatitis, or other bloodborne diseases.
Tattoo regulations vary by state, and sometimes within a county or city. Some are governed by the health department, while others are regulated by the department of cosmetology.
While there are regulations, not all tattoo parlors are diligent in following safe, accepted precautions.
A professional tattoo artist takes pride in his artistry and safety habits, and will encourage you to ask questions. If you’re determined to get a tattoo, do yourself a favor and follow these suggestions:
- Ask if you can observe a tattoo in process.
- Look around and note the following about your tattooist and the parlor:
- What are the qualifications of your tattoo artist? Ask to see certificates and credentials.
- Is the tattoo shop neat and clean? Ask to see the autoclave. Does it work?
- Does the artist wash his hands and use and dispose of sterile gloves appropriately?
- Latex gloves can be used only with water based ointments.
- All equipment including needles, tubes, pigments (ink), ointments and water must be single use only, and come out of sterile, sealed, dated packages, or disposed of after use.
- Ensure that all non-disposable equipment is autoclaved.
- Watch for cross-contamination.
- Be sure that the area is completely disinfected after each client with a commercial disinfectant or bleach solution.
- Tell your tattooist if you’re pregnant or nursing, have a heart condition, severe eczema, or problems with keyloids. Your tattoo might have to wait, or may not be recommended.
This is not the time to look for a bargain! If you want a tattoo, seek out a professional tattooist who is experienced, and follows strict safety practices in his tattoo shop.
And finally, please think twice about getting a tat where cellulite may form. It’s just, we can’t, it’s too…gah! (You’ll thank us later.)