Think before you get inked

Jake Davis, of Smokin Tattooz on the corner of Main and Water street, finishes up a tattoo on Lauren Repp, 24, of Las Vegas on January 30. Photo by Coty Giannelli.

Jake Davis, of Smokin’ Tattooz on the corner of Main and Water street, finishes up a tattoo on Lauren Repp, 24, of Las Vegas on January 30. Photo by Coty Giannelli.

Samara Sands

As students reach the legal age to get a tattoo, many are excited to have a new way to express their individuality. However, this permanent form of expression may be a health risk.

Whether students are thinking about getting one or wanting to get more, there are certain precautions they should know before leaping toward a new tattoo.

Elena Fox, junior justice studies major, said she has two tattoos and she researched the tattoo parlors before getting them done.

“I agree that it is risky,” she said. “I think that you should check out the parlor and do your research before getting a tattoo.”

Angela DeJulius, Chief Physician for DeWeese Health Center, said that getting tattoos can put students at risk for blood-borne diseases and skin infections.

“The one risk would be blood-borne infections, which are hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV,” DeJulius said. “Other risks are skin infections that are not blood-borne, like staph infections. There are some staph infections that are resistant to antibiotics.”

DeJulius warned that the customer, as well as the tattoo artist, is at risk for these diseases and infections if everything is not cleaned or disposed of properly.

She said that the tattoo industry is similar to the health care industry in the way tools and equipment should be cleaned.

“They should be wearing gloves, cleaning off the skin before doing the procedure and disposing everything that is disposable, like the needles,” she said. “If there is anything that is not disposable, they should be sterilizing it. General cleanliness should also be applied and they should be wiping down all the surfaces with an antiseptic.”

DeJulius said tattoo parlors in Kent are regulated by the Kent City Health Department, just like restaurants.

She said that there have been a recent series of staph infection outbreaks from unlicensed tattoo artists and she advises people to ask to see a certification from tattoo parlors if they are wary about getting one.

Jake Remenaric, junior visual communication design major, has five tattoos. He said he was worried about getting tattoos at first, but felt at ease at a well-established parlor.

“The tattoo industry is probably not as prestigious as a doctor’s office, but it’s not like you’re getting tattooed next to a trash can and a homeless guy.”

Remenaric feels that tattoo parlors have come a long way from where they once were and said there are more dangers out there that we do every day like smoking and drinking.

Ryan Fishley, a Kent tattoo artist of Defiance Tattoos, said the health department comes into their parlor several times a year and inspects several aspects of the shop.

“They go through our procedures and how we are set up,” Fishley said. “They want to see that we have regular sterilizations and our areas are clean.”

Fishley said the shop uses MadaCide, a disinfectant that sterilizes everything and kills any bacteria on surfaces. He said that there is a health risk when getting tattoos and his staff tries to eliminate that by following all of the precautions that they can.

“We use single-use needles and everything is pretty much deposable except our tubes, which is sterilized,” he said.

Fishley said that the aftercare of getting tattoos is always very important and every customer must follow directions given by the artist.

“If you don’t keep it clean there are diseases you can possibly contract,” Fishley said. “Keep in mind that it is an open wound, just as if you fell down and scraped your knee.”

Contact Samara Sands at [email protected].