As tattoos gain popularity, safety remains priority for licensed tattoo shops
RICHLAND, Wash. —
Tattoos are becoming more mainstream. According to the Pew Research Center, about 40% of Americans between the ages of 26 and 40 have at least one tattoo.
Thunderhand Tattoo owner Joey Armstrong says, “People vary in tastes and style and, you know, so do their tattoo tastes."
Armstrong started Thunderhand Tattoo in early 2016. But before he could open the shop, a lot of work had to be done before they could start taking in customers, including getting rid of the carpet.
According to Armstrong, it had to be done for good reason: "You can't tattoo on carpet because it kind of harbors a lot of bad things."
That attention to detail is important for tattoo safety.
Armstrong says he and the other artists use pre-packaged sterilized needles and disposable tubes for each client they work on, as well as new ink every time.
In addition, all of them wear gloves and Armstrong says he'll wash his hand two to three times per session.
After they're done they wipe down their work area.
"If you protect yourself and you protect the client, there's no reason why anything bad should happen. No infection should happen."
While Thunderhand Tattoo is strict with its safety measures, many looking to get a tattoo, especially first-timers, may not be taking the right precautions in their quest for ink.
That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics released its first-ever clinical report in mid-September about body modifications, including tattoos and piercings.
It's a project that lead author Dr. Cora Breuner says began personally for her when her daughter asked her where she should go for a piercing and she didn't have an answer.
“Finally it was ‘I don't even know if there is anything in the pediatric literature that helps someone like me navigate this system for themselves or for their kid.’"
Now five years later, the report lines out important recommendations for teens and young adults looking to get their first tattoo.
Dr. Breuner says people need to make sure getting a tattoo is something they actually want and won't regret later.
"It isn't just like an Instagram picture that they can swipe left and it's the next picture. They have to understand it's permanent,” she says.
In addition, Dr. Breuner says those who are considering getting a tattoo should also be aware of how it could affect their chances of getting jobs. She says employers will often look for any signs of tattoos and may make a decision on if someone is employable based on that.
If someone still wants to get a tattoo, Dr. Breuner says do your homework first by researching tattoo parlors and making sure they're state-regulated.
She also says it's also a good idea to talk with your health care provider before getting a tattoo and, afterwards, follow all of the aftercare instructions.
Armstrong says it's when people don't follow the instructions he gives them that they see the most problems with infections.
"It's very rare that I've ever seen anybody come back here, where they're like ‘Hey, something bad happened to my tattoo' you know. But if I root around and I get to talking to them and I'll ask them a few little questions here and there, usually come to find out that somebody didn't take care of the tattoo."
Finally, know the law. In some states, teens can get a tattoo with parental consent. But in others, including Washington state, a teen can't get a tattoo until they're 18.
"Occasionally you'll have people wanting…¦they'll be like ‘Hey, I'm totally fine if my kid gets tattooed' and I'm just like 'Well I'm not unfortunately.’ And I just tell them if you're kid really wants to get tattooed, they'll wait a couple years and they'll get tattooed."
Thunderhand Tattoo is located at 1358 Jadwin Ave. in Richland.
To check out the full clinical report and recommendations, click here.