Tattoos don’t appeal to me. I won’t be getting one anytime soon. So I was surprised to learn that more and more baby boomers are getting tattoos.
A 2008 Harris poll showed that about 20 percent of adults between the age of 40 and 64 reported having one or more tattoos, according to the article “What Boomers Need to Know About Tattoos” on the DesMoinesRegister.com.
Boomers are usually looking for smaller tattoos that can be hidden, one tattoo artist reported. Flowers, birds, and family references are popular.
Another tattoo artist interviewed said he’s seen more interest in boomers who are retired getting tattoos. Since they aren’t working, they don’t have to worry about being stigmatized for having body art.
But is getting a tattoo risky?
Tattoo artists should follow health and safety practices to protect themselves as well as their clients from blood borne pathogens such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and/or HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
Health and safety procedures for body artists may be regulated by city, county, or state agencies. Reputable shops and tattoo parlors govern themselves and follow strict safety procedures to protect their clients – and their body artists.
Are you considering getting a tattoo?
If you decide to get a tattoo, make sure you go to a licensed facility and take time to discuss the safety procedures with the artists working at the shop or tattoo parlor, the CDC recommends.
They should explain the process and tell you what they do to keep everyone safe and healthy by using sterile needles and razors, washing hands, wearing gloves, and keeping surfaces clean.
What safety procedures should be used?
Tattoo artists protect themselves and their clients when following safe and healthy practices, the CDC advises, such as:
- Use single-use, disposable needles and razors. Disposable piercing needles, tattoo needles, and razors are used on one person and then thrown away. Reusing needles or razors is not safe.
- Safely dispose of needles and razors. Used needles and razors should be thrown away in a biohazard-labeled, disposable container to protect both the client and the person changing or handling the trash bag from getting cut.
- Wash hands before and after putting on disposable gloves. Gloves are always worn while working with equipment and clients, changed when necessary, and aren’t reused.
- Clean and sterilize reusable tools and equipment. Some tools and equipment can be reused when creating body art. Reusable tools and equipment should be cleaned and then sterilized to remove viruses and bacteria.
- Frequently clean surfaces and work areas. Chairs, tables, workspaces, and counters should be disinfected between procedures to protect both the health of the client and the artist. Cross-contamination – spreading bacteria and viruses from one surface to another – can occur if surfaces aren’t disinfected frequently and between clients. Any disinfectant that claims to be able to eliminate the tuberculosis germ can also kill HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses. Use a commercial disinfectant, following the manufacturer’s instructions, or a mixture of bleach and water – one part bleach to nine parts water.
What are the risks if safety procedures aren't followed?
- Viruses, germs, and bacteria that can cause infections
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HIV and AIDS
What are other problems that could occur with tattoos?
- An allergy to the ink, which may be troublesome because pigments can be difficult to remove.
- Nodules called granulomas that may form around material that the body sees as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment.
- Scars called keloid formation that grow beyond normal boundaries may occur in people who are prone to developing keloids.
- MRI complications such as swelling or burning in the affected areas when undergoing magnetic resonance imaging test or MRI.
So be extremely careful if you decide to get a tattoo. Here are references on the things to consider before walking into a tattoo parlor to have body art applied:
“Tattoos and Permanent Makeup” – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
“Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?” – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
“Foot Tattoos: Five Things to Think About Before You Get a Foot Tattoo” – The Fun Times Guide to Feet
“Tattoos: What You Need to Know” – MedicineNet.com
“Tattooing Tips” – Life123
“The Deadly Dangers of Body Tattoos” – Associated Content
“What Are the Dangers of Getting a Tattoo?” – The Sun Chronicle
“About Tattoo Dangers and Side Effects” – eHow
“Having Tattoos Could Be a Sign of Low Self-Esteem” – studentdailynews.com
“Tattoo Remorse Fuels Boom for Dermatologists” – CNNhealth.com
“Color Me Yellow: Hepatitis and the Art of Tattoo” – About.com