You have decided to get that new tattoo or piercing that you have been wanting. You have talked to friends, looked online and know what to look for to ensure the place is clean and safe.....ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT?
The most common concern that most customers have is whether you will be using clean needles or not. While this is a very important question, there are numerous other factors that need to be taken into consideration.
The first things that you will most likely notice are the look and smell of the shop when you walk in. Yes, these are two important factors, but there are several other things to look at. When you step in, what are you stepping on? Are you standing on carpet, or is it a hard surface? Carpeting may be acceptable in a lobby or waiting area, but NEVER in the work areas. Carpet and fabrics cannot be properly disinfected by wiping them down. Every surface in the tattooing or piercing areas, from floor to ceiling must be non-porous in order to be properly decontaminated after the procedure. If you see fabric or upholstery in the work area it means one of two things. Either those working there have no knowledge of blood borne pathogens and cross contamination, or they simply are not concerned about your well-being, nor their own. What do you smell? It should go without saying, but if you smell smoke, alcohol or any offensive odors you need to turn around and walk out! You are about to have an invasive medical procedure performed. Would you go to a doctor or hospital where they smoke or drink? Not only is this unsafe, but illegal nearly every state in the country.
Everything looks and smells right, so now it's time to sit down and get your new tattoo or piercing. Take notice as to whether reusable or disposable instruments are being used. Needles are NEVER to be reused! Regardless of which is being used, the needles, tubes and piercing tools will be sealed in packages or bags which have indicators that show whether it has been sterilized. The two types of sterilization that are commonly used are EO gas and steam. When reusable instruments are being used, the shop will be utilizing an autoclave for sterilization. You would assume that because an autoclave is being used, everything will be sterile. This is not the case. When an autoclave is being used as the sterilization method, spore testing MUST be done periodically to ensure that it is working properly. All shops that use autoclave sterilization should be able to provide spore test results if you ask. If they are not having the equipment tested, there is no way to know if it is working properly. Ask to see the reports. Make sure that anything that should be sterilized is opened in front of you and ask to see the sterilization indicators on the packaging. This, in addition to seeing the spore test results is the best way to protect yourself. If you are called back to the work station and the sterilized items are already opened, insist on new items being used so you can see for yourself that things are as they should be. If you don't see it with your own eyes, you need to assume it doesn't exist. Additionally, packaging should never be opened with bare hands. Make sure gloves are being worn when opening the packaging.
These are just a few of the many things to take notice to when you are having a tattoo or piercing procedure performed. If one of these things are off, there is a strong likely hood that others are as well. BE SAFE!!!