Having body art has become increasingly popular in the United States, with more and more people deciding to have one or more tattoos. Tattoo parlors also are starting to become more commonplace in many American towns. The increased choice for consumers unfortunately brings with it more risk of infection from inferior hygiene standards. Understand what to look for when choosing a tattoo parlor, so that you can minimize the risk of any subsequent health problems.
Choosing a tattooist. You should always ensure that the tattooist is qualified for the work. According to the Mayo Clinic, regulations and licensing standards can vary from one state to another, so you should check locally as to the standards you can expect. Always choose a reputable tattooist, with appropriately trained staff members.
Fixtures and fittings. The fixtures and fittings of a tattoo parlor should give you confidence that the tattooist maintains high standards of hygiene. Ensure that all areas are clean and uncluttered and that customer waiting areas are entirely separate from the area where the tattooist works. The Alliance of Professional Tattooists suggests that you survey a tattoo parlor in much the same way that you would assess any medical facility.
Tools and ink. The tattooist should demonstrate that he uses a sterile needle for each session. This may not be brand-new (some tattooists will use a professional sterilizer), but you should insist on seeing evidence that the needle and tube have been sterilized. Likewise, the tattooist should use a new supply of ink for each session and should be able to demonstrate this to you.
Tattooist conduct. The tattooist should observe excellent standards of hygiene. That includes wearing a new set of disposable gloves before setting up the new sterile equipment and changing the gloves if interrupted during the session. If the tattooist has to go and handle something else (for example a telephone) during a session, then she should always put on a new set of gloves when finished.
Talk to the tattooist. A professional tattooist will understand the importance of good standards of hygiene and will have no objections in talking to you about his approach, tools, policies and qualifications. If the tattooist seems unsure or becomes defensive about the subject, then you should look elsewhere. You cannot afford to compromise on your health.