There are more than 20,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S., and their popularity continues to grow as there has been a dramatic increase in the past decade. With this popularity increase, also comes a rise in tattoo infections and injuries seen in medical centers, according to a U.S. News and World Report study. To slow the increase of injuries, 47 states (excluding: New Mexico, North Dakota and Washington, D.C.) have adopted laws requiring every operating tattoo parlor to be licensed. Along with a license, a tattoo parlor owner usually carries insurance to protect his or her business from personal injury claims.
To create a tattoo, an artist injects ink into your skin with a sharp mechanical needle, which pierces up to 3,000 times every minute! Normally, the punctures will heal without concern, but sometimes customers suffer an injury or infection.
Unsanitary needles can pass along hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis, and cause viral or bacterial infections such as tetanus.
There is an assortment of reasons why tattoo injuries occur, including:
- The reuse of tattoo needles, as they can be contaminated with bacteria
- The environmental conditions around the customer may contaminate the wound site; i.e. dust on a chair
- Artist may not have sanitized his or her hands
- Contaminated chemicals in the ink
- Improper sterilization of the needle
- Artist failing to review your medical history to avoid allergic reactions
- Artist carrying a transmittable disease or illness
Before trusting a tattoo parlor recommended by a friend, here are some things to consider:
- The possible injuries and health risks associated with getting a tattoo
- If the business is insured and licensed; ask to see their state issued license, and make sure it’s current and matches the parlor’s address. Also look for their state, county and city health code certificates
- Ask to see the parlor’s autoclave, a device artists use to sanitize needles before applying a tattoo
- Ask to see the owner’s copy of his or her insurance policy
- Save your receipt
*If the owner hesitates, becomes irritated or isn’t able to show you what you need to see to determine if the parlor is a safe choice, find a different tattoo place.
If you receive an injury from a tattoo parlor, first contact the parlor’s owner and bring your receipt; show him or her your injury, get his insurance company’s contact information, take photos of the infected area and immediately visit a medical center to confirm the infection. With a minor injury, you have the ability to file a lawsuit without the need of an attorney, but if your injuries are serious, like HIV, hepatitis, scarring, etc. it is vital for you to have legal representation when filing your claim. Parvey & Cavenago encourage you to do your research on a number of different parlors and look for warning signs before you sit down for a tattoo.