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Tattoos no longer carry the social stigma they once had. According to a 2013 Pew research study, about 45 million people in the United States have at least one tattoo. However, though they’ve become more socially acceptable, there are still many things to take into consideration before getting a tattoo. First of all, there’s sanitation to […]
Tattoos no longer carry the social stigma they once had. According to a 2013 Pew research study, about 45 million people in the United States have at least one tattoo. However, though they’ve become more socially acceptable, there are still many things to take into consideration before getting a tattoo.
First of all, there’s sanitation to think about. Tattoo guns and equipment are much safer and more sanitary than they were 50 years ago, but that’s still not enough to guarantee a 100% safe experience. After all, a tattoo is essentially ink trapped underneath scar tissue, so there’s going to be blood.
“When you get a tattoo, you bleed,” says internal medical specialist Dr. Donna Casey. “Because you are bleeding, anything in contact with the tattoo — bacteria, viruses — can get into the wound and your entire body. It’s like having a bite on your leg or a gigantic abrasion.”
When artists follow safety standards, there typically aren’t any issues. However, under-sterilized tools or contaminated ink will lead to infection, blood-borne diseases, and other, less-obvious problems.
According to Dr. Bryan Wasson, an internal medicine physician, “A tattoo is like a minor surgery. You clean and shave the skin like you’re going to operate. You use surgical tools. There are dangers. So be careful in your selection.”
Surprisingly, there can still be problems even if all of the safety standards are followed. Some people are actually allergic to tattoo ink. Though it’s rare for someone to be allergic at all, the common colors that people are allergic to are reds and blues.
There’s also the after care to think about, too. Even though the procedure is over, a person can still develop health issues, like infections, if they neglect their tattoos’ aftercare. Most tattoos take about two weeks to heal, while larger pieces that might go on the back or the chest could take months to finish.
“You would want to treat it as if it’s a cut or open wound, because it is that,” said tattoo artist Cameron Vigil, of Atom Bomb Studio. “A tattoo can get infected the same way a cut can.”
Typical after care procedures involve keeping the new tattoo away from dirt and other unclean elements that might cause infection. It’s also necessary not to pick and scratch at the peeling, scabby tattoo. It’s natural to feel itchy, but scratching can not only cause infection, but also pull the ink out. Usually, the artist will recommend a lotion, a cream, or a topical treatment like witch hazel astringent.
“You’re buying a piece of art; you want to take care of it,” said Vigil.
Though tattoos are safer to get now and more socially acceptable, it’s unwise to rush into the experience. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Read online reviews. Go into the studio to check things out. Talk with the artists. And be sure that you want to get the tattoo, because just like your mom would remind you, it’s permanent.
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