Health Concerns and Risks  

Tattoos are still stigmatized by artists who do not practice safe and sanitary procedures. To combat this stigma and to protect yourself and your clients, you must learn and follow safety and sanitization procedures (refer to local regulations under Rules and Regulations). You also need to be able to recognize medical problems, describe proper care and articulate what a normal verses abnormal reaction to a tattoo will look like. Most serious medical risks associated with tattoos, such as hepatitis, are generally linked to unsanitary procedures. However, health risks including infections and allergies to pigments can occur even in the most sanitary environment. Most of the following resources are geared toward potential clients. However, professional tattooists must be aware of their clients' concerns and know how to address them professionally and accurately.


woman's back with tattoo of dragon

Tattoo Living Image. Red Dragon. 13 December 2003.



Recommended Books

Winkler, Kathleen. Tattooing and Body Piercing: Understanding the risks. Enslow Publishers, 2002

Aimed at a young adult audience, this book provides readers with information on the history, current trends and health risks associated with tattooing and piercings. Winkler provides unbiased information guiding readers toward making responsible decisions about whether to get a tattoo and choosing an artist.

Wilkinson, Beth. Coping With the Dangers of Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Branding. New York : Rosen Publishing Group, 1998.

This book provides information needed to make an informed decision about body modification, including health risks and the laws and safety regulations governing the body modification industry.

Recommended Web sites

MEDLINE Plus: Piercing and Tattoos

MEDLINE Plus is a web site maintained by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. This page provides links to authoritative health information on piercings and tattoos. The resources provided specifically address the risk of disease and infection, proper procedures, tattoo removal and recent scientific research on the subject.

PBS Teacher Source: Health and Fitness--Tattoos and Piercings

This is a link to an excellent article hosted by PBS Teacher Source explaining the health risks and concerns associated with tattooing and piercing.

Federal Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors Fact Sheet, November 29, 2000: Tattoos and Permanent Makeup

This FDA document reviews the risks involved with tattooing, removal techniques and temporary tattoos. This document also provides instructions on how to report an adverse reaction to a tattoo.


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