Are you looking for the next do-it-yourself project? Maybe self-tattooing with the risk of infection and cross contamination is just what you’re searching for.
Does that make you feel uneasy? That’s because it’s the case. Self-tattoo kits sold over-the-counter are gaining popularity, but health experts warn that they are extremely dangerous, particularly for teens and children.
“Anytime you crack the skin, there’s a risk of infection or blood borne illness,” says Jessica Lum, MD, an infectious disease specialist. “So it can be particularly harmful if it is not done in a safe setting with qualified professionals and regulations.”
What does it mean to get a self-tattoo?
The “stick and poke” technique is used in the majority of self-tattoo kits. Basically, you dip a needle into ink and then pierce your skin with it to create a pattern. It’s essential to poke deeply enough for the ink to reach the skin while avoiding drawing (too much) blood.
Dr. Lum says, “This development raises a lot of questions.” “We have no idea if people are exchanging needles or properly sterilising the area or atmosphere around them. This practise is not governed by any laws.”
Self-tattooing and risky tattoo activities, according to Dr. Lum, will put you at risk for:
- Rashes and infections (such as staph).
- Allergic reactions are common.
- Hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver.
- MRSA is an acronym for methicillin-resistant Sta
- HIV is a virus that causes AIDS.
Skin infections caused by nontuberculous mycobacteria (from tattoo ink).
Why should you have your tattoo done by a professional?
Professional tattoo artists have the necessary experience, expertise, equipment, and knowledge, while amateur tattoo artists do not.
If you’re really set on getting a tattoo, Dr. Lum advises consulting a licenced professional.
Certification and licencing are required.
Prior preparation and experience of the practitioner.
Security protocols and how you’ll be shielded from harm.
Professionals can properly dispose of needles, sterilise instruments, adhere to government requirements (did you know the tattooing area cannot be within a certain distance of a kitchen?) and explain what to expect as your tattoo heals. To help ensure your safety, controlled tattoo parlours monitor where the needles and ink come from.
Self-tattooing by amateurs, on the other hand, is often performed in non-sterile conditions with little concern for protection. If the person tattooing you reaches up to change a light and then continues tattooing without changing gloves, you’re at risk of being infected. Whatever bacteria or other germs were on the surface of that non-sterilized light are now exposed to your open skin.
It can appear to be a minor risk or that it is not a significant issue, but it is. Amateur tattooing is dangerous, which is why there are licenced tattoo artists.
“If there is a risk for adults using these kits without regulations, it is even higher for children,” Dr. Lum says. “Most children are unaware of how risky this can be.”
Tattooing may have its roots in art, but it is ultimately a science. When deciding whether or not to have a tattoo, hygiene and protection should be your top priorities.
Immunocompromised individuals, such as those who have had or are waiting for a transplant, should avoid getting some kind of tattoo. If something doesn’t look or feel right after you have a tattoo, see a doctor as soon as signs start.