Tattooing and Body Piercing – Making an Informed Decision:
Tattooing and Body Piercing is becoming more and more popular every day. Many people are looking for ways to express themselves individually, and what better way to do it than getting a tattoo and/or body piercing? But it’s important to remember that with permanent ink or piercing may come permanent infections, so do your research before getting behind the needle.
Things to consider before getting a tattoo or piercing:
- The price speaks wonders – Don’t get your tattoo or piercing done from someone who is “practicing” at a lower rate or for free. Get it from a professional who is knowledgeable in not just the art, but the infections caused from cross-contamination and the risks of blood borne infection.
- Avoid “underground” tattoo and piercing artists – ask if they get regular inspections and request to see the latest inspection report. If you’re still not 100% satisfied, contact Elgin St. Thomas Public Health for more information on the premise. Approved premises are regularly inspected by Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
- Go to the premise in advance and observe the cleanliness of the surroundings. Ask how often they sterilize their equipment (if applicable) and how they sterilize. If they use single-use tools, make sure they are still in their original packaging, check expiration dates and do research on the manufacturer(s) of the tools and equipment. Things to look for before you get your tattoo or piercing.
- With the magic of the internet, it’s easy to find reviews of artists and shops online. Read reviews or ask friends about their experiences with the artist or shop of interest.
- Ask questions! If you’re not satisfied with the answer or you spot any red flags, move on to the next. Questions to ask before you get your tattoo or piercing.
- Make sure the artist washes their hands and puts gloves on before handling sterile instruments, items or equipment.
- All invasive equipment (such as needles), or items used to handle invasive equipment (such as clamps used to open and close jewellery) are to be in sealed, sterilized (marked) packaging. Ask the operator how these items are sterilized.
- Make sure the operator does NOT use an ear piercing gun for body piercing. Ear piercing guns are designed for the tissue of the ear lobe only. They are not meant to be used on other parts of the body because they may shatter cartilage and tear flesh in other parts of the body. This increases time of healing and the chances of infection.
- Make sure packaged, single-use instruments, items or equipment are opened and assembled in front of you.
- Some equipment cannot be sterilized (i.e. tattoo machine, clip cords, etc.), therefore it needs to be covered with disposable material (such as disposable bags, covers, cling wrap, etc.)
- Make sure the artist cleans, disinfects and covers any surfaces where sterile items are placed.
- All instruments, items and equipment used for the purposes of tattooing and piercing should be stored in a manner that prevents them from becoming contaminated (i.e. covered containers, boxes, etc.)
- Make sure single-use items (such as needles, needle bars, ink caps, grips, etc.) are disposed of right after they are used. These items CANNOT be re-used.
- How long will it take to heal and what can I expect while it heals? How do I know it is healing normally?
- Elgin St. Thomas Public Health requires operators to provide verbal and written after care instructions to prevent infection. If they don’t have it, go somewhere else!
- Do you use sterile, single-use, disposable needles? Where do you dispose of them? How often do you dispose them?
- How do you sterilize re-usable equipment?
- Here’s a hint: Sterilized packaging will have black markings to indicate that an appropriate heat for sterilization was achieved. (You may see it on tape that was used to seal the packaging.) If there are no markings on the package the contents may not be sterile.
- Do you use disposable covers or cling wrap for equipment that cannot be sterilized (e.g. tattoo machine, clip cords, etc.)?
Adapted with permission from Ottawa Health Department.
For more information, call 519-631-9900 and speak to a Health Inspector.
As an operator of a tattoo and/or body piercing establishment, it is important to protect your clients and yourself from infection. Elgin St. Thomas Public Health inspectors make sure infection control practices are being followed by conducting regular inspections in accordance with the Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices for Personal Services Settings (2009) Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care protocol.
If you want to open a new business or re-locate and existing one, call 519-631-9900 and ask to speak with a health inspector to review requirements and arrange for an inspection.
Operators are encouraged to review the resources below to make sure infection control standards for tattooing and body piercing are met in their establishment.