Important information about tattoos

Related sites:

Biker's experience with hepatitis
Tattoo care page
Another tattoo care page
Tattoo site at the Mining Company

I wrote this page as a public service and hopefully it will save some lives out there. Probably about 90 percent of you already know this information, but I'm trying to reach the 10 percent who don't. To the left is a link to a page by a biker who didn't and he tells how it effected his life.

Getting a tattoo involves some risk because any time the skin is broken, there is a chance that a deadly virus will come in contact with your blood. The first virus that can cause a problem is hepatitis C. It causes cirrosis of the liver, the same problem that alcoholism can cause. That was the main concern when I got my tattoo. More recently, the AIDS virus has also become a problem. With all these fatel viruses floating around, the only safe way to get a tattoo is to have it done in absoutely sterile conditions.

There are two ways these viruses can be spread from one person to the other. This can happen if the same needle is used on more than one person without sterilizing it, or if the same ink is used on more than one person. There are several ways tattoo artists can keep everything sterile. One method is to use an autoclav. This is an oven that works like a pressure cooker. The needles and ink palettes are placed in the autoclav and steralized after each use. That is the method my tattoo artist used. A second method involves using disposable needles that are disposed of in a biohazard box after each use.

The best way to avoid problems is to know your tattoo artist. In the cities, tattoo artists are usually licensed and inspected and usually there's no problem. The problem is when you get a tattoo at some country fair where the tattoo artist doesn't have a license or doesn't even know about the contamination problem. If you have had such a tattoo in unsterile conditions, it's very important to go to the doctor and have a checkup and make sure you have no viruses. These diseases can lie dormant in your body for 20 years or more before they strike and when they do, it's probably too late to do anything about it.

Copyright 1998, Colin Pringle