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Tattoos: Health and Safety First!

tattoo image

Thinking of getting a tattoo? Do your homework first to avoid problems later.

They are popular, they’re out in the open and they’re no longer for men only. One of the most popular new forms of personal creative expression is the tattoo – and they’re showing up on all body parts, even on the insides of some lower lips!

And… body art that used to be considered strictly a man’s domain is seeing a surge in the number of women who want tattoos. Tattoo body art is not without risks. Some of them are already well known, particularly the risk of infection, HIV and hepatitis from dirty needles. Other risks include scarring of the skin and the development of small bumps around the pigment injected under the skin. In addition, some people are allergic to ink pigments in permanent and temporary tattoos and there may even be trace metals that are linked to cancer in the composition of some inks.

Are there safer places on the body for tattoos? Placement is generally decided based on the size of the tattoo – the arms, chest and back seem to be the most common tattoo sites. Women, in particular, opt more often than men for tattoo placement on parts of the body where there are lots of nerve endings, such as in the genital area, breasts, feet and spine. These are areas that can cause considerably more pain and discomfort.

One thing to keep in mind about tattoos – you may have to postpone blood donation for up to a year post-tattoo because of the risk of HIV or hepatitis.

If you already have a tattoo, or are contemplating getting one, do a bit of research first to make sure you are going to a reputable artist. Do your homework first so you won’t have any regrets after! After all, it’s your health, and your health is your responsibility.

Take a look at the prospective artist’s shop. Ask to observe him or her at work; reputable tattoo artists will have no problem with this. Ask lots of questions about their hygiene practices. Do they use gloves? Do they change them after every client? Do they use fresh needles with each new client? Do they disinfect non-disposable equipment after every client?

Aftercare instructions are really important to avoid any negative effects on your health. Make sure you follow them exactly to avoid infection. Your artist should cover your new tattoo with a bandage before you leave to minimize the risk of infection. Leave it on for at least two hours, then remove it and wash your tattoo with very mild soap. Do not use a washcloth or anything abrasive. Your hand is actually best.

Follow with a lotion recommended by your artist – it should be fragrance-free and not a petroleum-based product. Stay out of direct sunlight and swimming pools and don’t soak your tattoo for any length of time for at least 2 weeks.

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