If you are thinking about having a tattoo or body piercing, go to a
reputable studio. Look for or ask about the following:
Is it clean? The entire shop, including the
bathroom, should be clean.
What type of sterilization procedures
does the shop follow? Is there a procedure manual of written standards? Ask to
Is an autoclave used to sterilize reusable equipment? An
autoclave is a machine that sterilizes using heat. Reusable equipment should be
sterilized and stored in sterile bags. The date of sterilization should be
clearly visible on the bags.
How are instruments that cannot be
sterilized handled? Make sure that instruments or supplies that can't be
sterilized using an autoclave are disinfected after every use with a commercial
disinfectant or bleach solution.
Are sterile needles used for
piercing? Needles should be stored in sterilized packages, only used once, and
disposed of in safety containers.
What type of training does the
person doing the tattooing or piercing have?
Does the person doing
the tattoo or piercing wear gloves? A fresh pair of gloves should be used for
each procedure. Make sure that the operator
washes his or her hands before putting on the gloves.
Ask the operator to change his or her gloves if he or she answers the telephone
or does anything else during your procedure.
Is a piercing gun used
to do the procedure? Do not have any kind of piercing
done with a piercing gun. These instruments increase your risk of infection
because they cannot be sterilized between procedures.
What kind of
jewelry is used for the piercing? Only use nonallergenic jewelry. Surgical
stainless steel, gold, platinum, niobium, and titanium are the only types of
jewelry you should use in a new piercing.
Do not use nickel or brass-plated
Choose jewelry that has not been used or worn or that has
been sterilized in an autoclave.
Although the piercing industry is not as well-regulated as the health
care industry, some states have hygienic regulations to ensure safe tattooing
practices. Check with your city or county health department to find out whether
there have been any complaints about the studio you are thinking of
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.