One of the key steps for avoiding the possible health risks of tattoos is knowing how to take proper care of your tattoo, and safety measures to look out for while at the tattoo parlor. Often times, people are either too focused on the pain of getting ink done, or how excited or scared they feel about getting a permanent body decoration. However, you need to be able to spot warning signs that you are in a tattoo parlor that is unsafe or unclean, and you need to know how to take care of your tattoo once it is finished.
Safety Measures at the Parlor
Before even setting foot in the tattoo parlor to get your ink done, check that these safety measures and precautions are met before going under the needle:
- Meet your tattoo artist. Make sure you get to know the person who will be permanently altering your body. Ask for a portfolio to see his or her work, or ask for recommendations from others on who should be doing your tattoo.
- Inspect the shop thoroughly. Is the shop dirty? Is there dirt or even blood on the floor or on the parlor seats? A tattoo parlor that isn't properly kept or clean is the first warning signal that it's time to go somewhere else.
- Is your tattoo artist wearing gloves? While having a tattoo done isn't exactly a surgical procedure, it is fairly similar and can be just as dangerous without the appropriate safety measures. Your tattoo artist is puncturing your skin, and there will be blood. You'll definitely want your tattoo artist to wash his or her hands along with wearing protective gloves before any tattooing begins.
- Make sure your tattoo artist is using sterilized needles and ink. Reused needles and ink are the quickest way to get a blood borne disease like HIV. Watch your tattoo artist, or even ask if the equipment being used is sterile and unused. The needle for the tattoo gun and the ink should all be coming out of sealed packages.
- Ask if reused tools are properly sterilized. A reused tool is mainly the tattoo gun, which should be properly cleaned and sterilized before use.
- Don't be afraid to ask anything. If the cleanliness of the shop or any equipment are making you feel easily, don't be afraid to ask your tattoo artist about it. If the tattoo artist is reluctant to explain or show you the safety measures taken to avoid infection and blood borne diseases, you probably shouldn't have your tattoo done there.
- Be fully aware of what is happening and be sure you know exactly what you want.In other words, don't show up to the tattoo parlor in a drunken stupor. The last thing you want is to wake up the next morning with a brand new tattoo you don't remember getting.
Instructions for Proper Tattoo Care
Follow these tattoo care instructions right after you've left the tattoo parlor:
- Your tattoo should be wrapped in a bandage, and sealed with plastic wrap to keep it from getting wet. Do not remove the bandage until 24-hours have passed.
- Immediately apply antibiotic ointment directly on the tattoo after the bandage is removed. You can purchase this from most drugstores. Reapply the ointment two to three times a day, especially after you've showered or bathed.
- Use mild soap and warm water to wash your tattoo. The tattoo should be cleaned regularly.
- Pat dry your tattoo, don't rub it.
- Regularly apply the antibiotic ointment for the first several days.
- After the tattoo has healed and no longer looks red, you can start using moisturizer on the tattoo. Apply moisturizer regularly for anywhere between one to two weeks.
- Try to avoid clothing that will irritate the tattooed skin.
- Do not pick at the tattoo or any scabs. This can lead to scarring, infection or can permanently damage the tattoo.
- Use sunscreen if you plan on exposing the tattoo to direct sunlight.
- Avoid submerging your tattoo in water for extended periods of time. A shower or bath is fine, but taking a dip in a hot tub is not recommended until at least two weeks have passed.
Final Tattoo Tips
Your tattoo artist will create a stencil that he or she will imprint on your body before tattooing begins. This will be the outline used for your tattoo. Take a good look at it before the tattoo process begins and make sure it looks the way you want it to. Check the spelling of anything written that's being tattooed on your skin. If you are getting a tattoo in a foreign language you are unfamiliar with, make sure you have an accurate translation.
Think hard about your tattoo and if you can live with it on your skin for the rest of your life. Tattoo removal is costly, and said to be more painful than the actual tattoo process. The last thing you want is a tattoo you will regret later. Try not to pick your tattoo out of an album, book or magazine in the tattoo shop either. These are usually the tattoos that people end up regretting.