Think, don’t drink, before you ink: Tattoo warnings
Darcy Wintonyk and Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 1:56PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, November 12, 2012 6:57PM PST
More than one in five North American adults has a tattoo. Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have lots of them, and David Beckham boldly flaunted his tattoos in a recent H&M commercial campaign. And fan websites for celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Rihanna are totally devoted to the singers' tattoos and what they mean.
Big or small, tattoos are now mainstream. But recent outbreaks of tattoo-related infections are cause for concern.
Getting a tattoo does pose health risks. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a report on tattoo-related skin infections in several U.S. states caused by contaminated ink. And Consumer Reports' medical adviser says concerns go beyond skin infections.
"In many areas tattoo shops are completely unregulated so infection prevention practices can vary, that creates a risk for HIV and hepatitis,” said Dr. Orly Avitzur.
But there are ways you can reduce your risks. First, keep a clear head and never drink before you ink. And avoid homemade tattoos. Instead, find an experienced tattoo artist.
A recent Steele on Your Side investigation prompted the shutdown of an illegal tattooing operation in Langford, B.C. The unlicensed artist was inking underage girls in his basement.
Grace Figueiredo contacted CTV's Steele on Your Side after her 14-year-old daughter came home with a Chinese character tattooed on her hip.
"Nobody wants to take responsibility for the fact that a 30-something year old man has tattooed not one, but more than one child who is under the age of 16. In the basement of his house,” she said.
Check that the artist uses individually packaged single-use kits with disposable needles and tubes and wears sterile, disposable gloves. Consumer Reports advises if you do see any sign of a rash or infection, consult a doctor.
And remember, tattoos aren't easily removed. You don't want to be stuck with something that's really ugly or down the line you're going to regret.
In B.C., tattoo artists are regulated through the provincial Ministry of Health, along with body piercers, tanning and hair salons. While there are no formal age restrictions for tattooing, the province recommends that operators require minors to obtain parental consent.
Bylaws for the Capital Regional District stipulate that no minor is allowed to be tattooed unless their guardian is present and gives written consent. It says no one under the age of 16 is allowed to be tattooed whatsoever.