Before you get inked, the health unit recommends checking to see if they passed an inspection.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge Health Unit is using National Infection Control Week to urge anyone looking to get tattoos or piercings to do some research to see if the shop is safe and clean.

Carol Chan, a public health inspector with the health unit, says While the piercings and tattoos may look good on you, it’s important to treat these procedures with caution and care,” adding that things like piercings and tattoos break the skin, and the skin is the first line of defence against infections.

Chan says that there are many reputable businesses, but she adds  “The real concern lies with individuals and operations that are not inspected by the Health Unit.  These operations may be doing piercings, tattoos and other procedures ‘undercover’ in private homes.”

Anyone looking to get tattoos or piercings are encouraged to carefully check the tattoo artist you go to and find out about the training they’ve had. Chan also suggests observing the person giving tattoos, adding that their practices can reveal a lot about their infection control practices. It is also good practice to make sure ink is not reused. Chan says that it is a good idea to look at the shop itself to see if its clean and well lit, adding, “a good tattoo practitioner should have a biohazard container for safe disposal of contaminated needles, a heat sterilization machine (also called autoclave) to sterilize equipment that is non-disposable, and a leak-proof garbage container for disposing of items.”

“Don’t let yourself get pressured into getting a tattoo without considering these precautions,” says Chan.

“While tattoos are a way to express yourself, they can also have lasting consequences on your health.”