Getting a tattoo may sound like a fun thing to do but the risks of tattoos for both the tattoo artist and for the person getting the tattoo is serious business. Lots of things can go wrong when getting tattooed and we’re not just talking about the design looking nothing like what you expected. There is also the risk of suffering various health issues such as infections, allergic reactions, scarring, excessive bleeding, and even contracting HIV. Some of these can have serious, long-term consequences.
If you are considering getting a tattoo, you must first take the time to learn about the potential risks of tattoos and what you can do to minimise the risks.
Look For A Safe Tattoo Parlour
This is most definitely the first thing you must do before getting inked. Preventing any tattoo related injuries starts with going to a safe tattoo parlour/ studio.
How do you determine whether a tattoo parlour is safe? There are several things you can do starting with asking friends and family for recommendations. If you’re a member of any forums or groups online you can ask on those for any recommendations. You could also search online for tattooist reviews, tattoo parlour reviews, etc. Make a shortlist of any tattooists that have been recommend that sound like they fit the bill.
Once you have made your shortlist of recommended tattooists, make time to visit each one personally before you book an inking appointment. These are a few things to do on your visit:
Check The Cleanliness Of The Tattoo Parlour/ Studio
Cleanliness is critical in a tattoo parlour because the procedure involves piercing the skin. Any dust or dirt that might settle on the tattooed area can increase the risk of infection. Take a close look around the interior on your visit to make sure it meets the high standards that you expect.
Check The Hygiene Of The Tattooist And Any Staff
Think twice about going to a tattoo parlour where the staff or the artist do not look spotlessly clean. Their personal grooming and hygiene can speak volumes about the amount of care they will take during the entire procedure. Poor hygiene can put you at risk from blood poisoning and even Hepatitis A.
Ask To See The Tattooist’s Licence
Only tattoo studios that meet accepted standards are granted a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence. You never, ever want to get inked at any studio that is not licensed as this could put you at risk for all sorts of tattoo injuries. Most studios will have their licence displayed prominently in the reception room. If you don’t see one, ask for it. If the studio does not have one, walk away.
Question The Tattoo Parlours Policy On Needles
Will your tattoo be done using a brand new needle? Getting inked with a used needle is dangerous. You do not know who it was used on before you and you sure do not want to take that risk. In fact, reusing needles and other sharp instruments is considered illegal. You want to make sure that before the procedure, a fresh needle will be taken out from an unused package in front of you.
Question The Tattoo Parlours Policy On Using Ink
Tattoo parlours are supposed to pour out the ink in a single-use cup and throw away the unused ink. Does that studio follow this policy? Don’t presume they will. Ask them.
Ask questions about the tattooist who will be inking you – If the studio has multiple tattooists, ask to talk directly to the artist who will be inking you. Find out how long they have been tattooing. Ask to see photographs of their work. Take note of their attitude while interacting with you. You want to go to a tattooist who is friendly, helpful and patient, especially if this is your first tattoo.
Ask About The Tattoo Parlours Aftercare Policy
Aftercare is as much a tattoo parlour’s responsibility as it is yours. Ask them what is their aftercare policy.
You’ve done your research, checked out several tattoo parlours and finally found one that ticks all the boxes with regards to health and safety. That’s not all though. Aftercare is an important step in the healing process. Proper aftercare will ensure that your tattoo heals properly and minimises the risks of tattoo injuries.
Why is tattoo aftercare so important? Considering the process of getting a tattoo involves pricking the area with a needle, a fresh tattoo is essentially a large raw wound. Like any other wound, it is susceptible to all kinds of bacterial infections. Your body and tattoo requires proper aftercare to heal properly without causing any infections, scabs or scars.
While we’ve put together general information about tattoo aftercare, your tattooist may have some very specific instructions for you. Make sure you follow those instructions to the letter for your own safety.
Leave The Bandage On For As Long As You’ve Been Instructed
Immediately after the procedure, the tattooist will bandage the inked area before you leave the parlour. Depending on various factors, they may ask you to keep the bandage on for a few hours or a whole day. Do not listen to anyone who may have been asked to keep their bandage on for only an hour. If your tattooist has asked you to keep it on for 24 hours, listen to their advice.
Wash And Dry The Tattooed Area Thoroughly
After removing the bandage, the first thing you will need to do is wash the area well to remove the residual blood and plasma. This does not mean you should scrub the area. Gently does it. Let warm water flow gently over the area and then wash it with a mild fragrance-free antibacterial soap. Rinse again and pat dry with a soft dry washcloth. Do not rub the area. You will need to do this regularly till the tattoo is fully healed.
Apply A Thin Layer Of Recommended Lotion
Apply a thin layer of the ointment that your tattooist has recommended. Do not use just any lotion. Lotions recommended by tattooists have antibacterial and moisturising qualities, both of which are equally important for the health of your tattoo. As with washing and drying the area, you will also need to moisturise the area with this special lotion regularly until the tattoo is fully healed.
Avoid Exposing The Area To Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight will damage your tattoo and may also cause blistering. If you have to go out in the sun while the area is still healing, try to keep it covered. Also, avoid using any type of sun cream until the tattoo is fully healed and you have got the go-ahead from your tattooist.
Avoid Prolonged Periods Of Time In Water
This includes soaking in the bath tub and swimming. Any bacteria present in the water can damage your tattoo. Short warm (not too hot) showers are best until your tattoo has healed completely.
If you have any doubts about what to do or not to do after getting a tattoo, always ask the artist who worked on your tattoo. Never heed unsolicited advice as the wrong advice could have adverse repercussions.
If you have been injured by a tattooist or suffered an infection after having a tattoo which you believe has been caused by a tattooists negligence you may be able to claim compensation. Please follow the link for more information on tattoo compensation claims.