Before getting a tattoo, understand the risks, medical professionals and tattoo artists agree.
Tattooing does involve breaking the skin, one of the body’s main protective barriers, putting people at greater risk of skin and blood infections, said Dr. Lamont Tyler, regional director of specialty care for the OSF HealthCare Eastern Region.
Risks include allergic reactions, such as an itchy rash, to the ink; scaring such as keloids (a growth that forms when scar tissue grows excessively) and granulomas (bumps around the border of the tattoo) in reaction to the ink; skin infections from non-sterile equipment, re-used ink or improper care by the individual after getting inked; and blood borne diseases (hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV) if equipment used to do the tattoo is contaminated with someone else’s blood.
“It does happen,” Tyler said. “But it’s not common.”
The reason is the body art industry has become more professional in the past decade because of better artists and business people and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) regulations.
“All establishments providing body art services such as tattooing, piercing, branding or scarification are required to be registered with us,” said Divya Mohan Little, IDPH public information officer. “After we get a completed application, we conduct an inspection to monitor compliance with the program. Renewal inspections are conducted periodically.”
Among requirements are sterilization of all reusable items and protocols to prepare the procedure site, after care instructions for the client and how to handle emergencies.