Tattoo parties raise risks of body art complications

ORLANDO, Fla. — Responding to a growing concern about the health risks of tattoo parties, Florida health department officials are warning residents against unsafe tattoo practices.

Those who want to get a tattoo should only use licensed tattoo artists, say officials, who also advise against participating in local tattoo parties where unlicensed activity is common.

“Tattoo parties are events where someone hires an unlicensed person or business to provide tattoos for their guests,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

These types of events are illegal in Florida. Licensed professionals will not tattoo anyone under the age of 18, officials said.

Re-using needles and sharing ink between customers is common, said officials. Sometimes ink may not be safe for the skin.

Here are some other complications that are more likely to occur if the tattoo artist is unlicensed:

—Diseases. Tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are some of the diseases that can be transmitted by contaminated blood on unsterilized equipment.

—Infections. Life-threatening skin infections, including MRSA, are possible, as well as other kinds of infections.

—Scarring. Bumps, called granulomas, can form around tattoo ink. Tattooing can also lead to keloids — raised areas of scar tissue.

—Allergic reactions. Tattoo dyes, especially red, green, yellow and blue, can cause allergic skin reactions. This can occur even years after the tattoo is placed.

To reduce these risks, health officials recommend these tattoo safety tips:

—Never get tattooed in someone’s house or in a hotel room.

—Only go to permitted and inspected shops that hire licensed tattoo artists.

—Before proceeding, ask to see the artist’s license.

—Verify that the artist is using only new needles, and that unused ink is discarded after the tattoo is over.

—Be sure your artist washes his hands, sanitizes the work surface, wears gloves and uses protective barriers on equipment and work surfaces while doing your tattoo.

If you believe you have contracted an illness related to a tattoo at a tattooing party, call your doctor and contact your nearest health department.


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