New recommendations for tattoo safety, and how NJ stacks up
Referring to tattoos as commonplace among adolescents and young adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics decided to issue its first formal policy on the topic so you or kids don't end up regretting a decision that's not so easy to reverse.
The academy doesn't share an opinion either for or against the permanent body markings, but advises individuals on potential medical complications and on how to make sure they're dealing with a legitimate tattoo business.
Research accompanying the recommendations finds 3 in 10 U.S. adults had at least one tattoo in 2016 — up from 20 percent in 2012. Estimates among younger-aged individuals vary by data source and age group.
New Jersey's tattoo shops are tied to a stringent state sanitary code.
Janie Carroll, owner and artist at Rabbits Den Tattoo Parlor in Milltown, said there's still a sense of fear among individuals walking into a tattoo shop for the first time, but there shouldn't be — at least in places that follow the rules.
"Everything's one-time use," Carroll said of her shop. "The inks are poured out, they never go back into the bottle. The needles come out, they're only used one time."
The state Department of Health says body art facilities are permitted to use single-use disposable sterile needles, as well as already-used needles that have been sterilized with an onsite autoclave. The equipment uses high pressure and temperatures to steam-sterilize instruments used during the tattoo process.
Without proper sterilization, the AAP report warns, the risk exists for cross-contamination of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C. The report notes medical complications are uncommon as a result of tattoo placement.
Simpler infections could also be caused by contaminated instruments or ink, but infections are seen during the healing process as well.
According to Carroll, there's an estimated two-week period during which a client must take proper care of their tattoo. Rabbits Den provides detailed instructions on proper care and "leaves the door really open" for any follow-up questions.
State code says aftercare instructions should be delivered both verbally and in writing.
“Reputable tattoo parlors and piercing salons should provide a long list of do’s and don’ts on how to care for the area that was worked on, and what signs might indicate a problem,” Dr. Cora Breuner, lead author of the report, said.
In a 2014 survey, mentioned in AAP's report, 76 percent of respondents said they believed a tattoo or piercing could hurt their chances of landing a job. AAP said while societal acceptance has increased, there could still be repercussions.
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