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What Do I Need to Know About Tattoos?

Aug 17, 2007
Are you thinking about getting a tattoo? With the rising popularity of tattoos in North America, chances are that at one time or another you have considered getting a tattoo. Before getting a tattoo, however, it is important to fully understand the process so you can assess the risks and make sure that you end up with a tattoo that you will be happy with for years to come.

What is a Tattoo?

You of course know what a tattoo is, that is why you want to get one. You may not be sure how a tattoo is created, however. Despite what it looks like, a tattoo is not drawn onto your skin. Instead, a tattoo is created by using an electric tattoo machine to inject pigments under your skin. The fact that you are having implements put under your skin means that getting a tattoo can be risky.

Making Sure Your Tattoo is Safe

You can be exposed to a number of health risks when getting a tattoo because the process involves breaking your skin. This leads to two possible problems: infectious diseases and allergic reactions.

The most significant risk in getting a tattoo is catching a blood-borne infection such as tetanus or hepatitis, or even HIV, in the worst situations. You run the risk of becoming infected if an instrument is used on you that had residue blood on it from a previous patron who carries a blood-borne infectious disease. While the potential of contracting a fatal disease just to get a tattoo may seem scary, in reality the risk of catching an infectious disease can be largely minimized in professional tattoo parlours. This is done primarily through the exclusive use of single-use tools. This means that blood will not be passed between patrons.

A less significant risk is that the trace metal elements in the tattoo pigments, particularly in red and green pigments, will cause an allergic reaction. While obviously not as serious as contracting a communicable disease, having an allergic reaction to the tattoo pigment can cause the skin around the tattoo to swell up and become itchy, and even to start to ooze fluids in more serious reactions. While allergic reactions are rare, if you have sensitive skin and are concerned about a potential reaction, have your tattoo artist to first do a spot test to ensure that you are not allergic to any particular pigment.

Finding a Good Tattoo Artisit

The most important step in finding a good tattoo artist is to look through their portfolio and make sure that their style and skill is up to your standards. You will have this tattoo for a while, so you need to be comfortable that your tattoo artist can create something you will be happy with. For a safety reasons, it is important to make sure that you only use tattoo artists that are fully licensed in your jurisdiction. Because they are licensed, they will likely have gone through a series of courses on the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. Do not, however, just rely on their license. Make sure that their studio is professional and clean. If they have a messy workspace, they will probably not be as concerned about cleanliness as they should be.

Are Tattoos Forever?

While tattoos will fade over time, this is a very drawn out process that cannot be relied on to quickly remove a tattoo. That means, in order to avoid embarrassment, make sure you only get a tattoo that you will be happy having for the rest of your life. Of course, in egregious situations, a laser treatment can be used to accelerate the natural fading process. This process, however, is not perfect, requires repeated visits to the technician, and in rare situations can even cause permanent scarring. Which is all to say that it is easier to make sure you will be happy with your tattoo before you get it.
About the Author
Steve Dolan has always been intrigued by tattoos. To find out more click Tattoos and Body Art For family fun try Face Painting
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