Healthy note: Tattoo parties raise risks of body art complications

Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Tattoo parties raise risks of body art complications

Responding to a growing concern about the health risks of tattoo parties, Florida health department officials are warning residents against unsafe tattoo practices.

Those who want to get a tattoo should only use licensed tattoo artists, say officials, who also advise against participating in local tattoo parties where unlicensed activity is common.

“Tattoo parties are events where someone hires an unlicensed person or business to provide tattoos for their guests,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

Unlicensed tattoo activity may be unsanitary, particularly if the artists don’t were protective gloves or use unsterile equipment, said Dr. Bonnie Sorensen, director of the Volusia County, Fla., health department.

Re-using needles and sharing ink between customers is common, said officials. Sometimes ink may not be safe for the skin.

Here are some other complications that are more likely to occur if the tattoo artist is unlicensed:

■ Diseases. Tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are some of the diseases that can be transmitted by contaminated blood on unsterilized equipment.

■ Infections. Life-threatening skin infections, including MRSA, are possible, as well as other kinds of infections.

■ Scarring. Bumps, called granulomas, can form around tattoo ink. Tattooing can also lead to keloids - raised areas of scar tissue.

■ Allergic reactions. Tattoo dyes, especially red, green, yellow and blue, can cause allergic skin reactions. This can occur even years after the tattoo is placed.