If you want to make a difference and help others while learning about sexual health and keeping yourself safe, then you need to join SMART Youth! You can come to any of our events around the city or come to one of our movie nights or Open Mic events. Check out our schedule to learn what we are doing or e-mail

Saturday, November 17, 2012

SMART Youth Answers: Tat Me Up

I want to get a tattoo. How can I make sure I am safe from any infections? 

 Whether it's a sleeve or a butterfly on an ankle, it seems like everyone has a tattoo these days, but there are some important tips to know before you step into a tattoo parlor. First thing is to choose the image that you want to have on your body for the rest of your life, it's time to learn how to stay safe when getting a tattoo. Remember that you must be 18 years old in order to get a tattoo.

1. Check out your tattoo artist. Make sure that they are licensed and you should be able to ask any questions that you have about the tattoo process, their sterilization system, and seeing their previous work.

2. Keep things clean. Although tattoo parlors have a reputation of being slightly dingy and rundown, but you should choose an artist that works in a clean, well lit space.  They should use needles, tubes and inks from unused, sealed packages. There should be an autoclave for sterilizing any non disposable equipment. If the place doesn't meet these requirements, go someplace else. Finally, make sure and that the artist either washes their hands or wears gloves. Gloves, sterilized needles and new ink is essential to make sure that you are not exposed to possible transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C, and tetanus.

3. Be kind to your skin. It's important to realize that some inks can cause skin irritation or even an allergic reaction. These problems can happen even years after you get the tattoo. You may have problems with bumps called granulomas or raised areas of scar tissue (keloids). Please talk to your doctor if you have sensitive skin before getting a tattoo.

4. Infection! Follow the directions for caring for a new tattoo. The healing period is normally two weeks long. If your tattoo is still red or burning after the healing period go see a doctor because it could be infected.

Tattoos are a way to express yourself, but it is permanent! So, take the time to really think about what you want to put on your body. Take care of yourself, and follow our tips to make sure that the only problems from getting a tattoo is when you break-up with the person who's name is now on your butt!

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