Get body art with caution

Avoid haste and reckless behavior with your body when getting tattooed or pierced.

Body art is a beautiful method of self-expression, but without caution, infections, allergic reactions and scarring can occur. Getting a tattoo or a piercing is not something one should do on a night of drinking and partying. Rather, it is a serious decision that must be researched ahead of time.

Infections are perhaps the most common, but usually preventable, condition. Many times, infections occur when the newly inked or tattooed individual becomes lazy and fails to follow the care instructions issued by their artist. Unsanitary practices like trying on jewelry at shops, exchanging jewelry with friends, touching fresh piercings or tattoos and allowing the use of unsanitary piercing devices or tattoo needles all increase the chances of infection. 

The popular myth that burning the device makes it “sanitary” is a fallacy. The only way to sanitize is through autoclave sterilization, which is a process that uses heat, steam and pressure to kill bacteria. Asking the artist what type of equipment they use is wise, and parlors that do not use autoclave sterilization should be avoided.

A needle pushes tattoo ink into the skin, breaking its protective barrier and raising risk of infection; proper care is essential here as well.

It’s important that individuals be aware of possible allergies also. Certain tattoo inks, usually coloring, can cause allergic reactions. This can be a painful and costly since the tattoo must be removed, sometimes leaving scars.

Some people are allergic to types of metal used in body jewelry. True titanium, gold and platinum are considered hypoallergenic, meaning they are unlikely to cause reactions. Although expensive, your jewelry must be compatible with your body.

Don’t just stumble into the first parlor you come across. Research it to make sure it is reputable. Use Web sites like safepiercing.org.

There is no room for recklessness when it comes to one’s health and safety. In an industry with little regulation, the burden is on the individual to use good judgment.