• Tattoo You

    What to do when you're thinking of inking
  • Forget what your grandmother said about tattoos being taboo. Body art is mainstream now. A Harris Poll published in February 2012 showed that one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo. That means if you don't have one, you know someone who does — even if he or she keeps it well hidden.
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    • Safety precautions
      Here's some safety advice from the Mayo Clinic:
      • Don't attempt to tattoo yourself or allow an untrained friend to do the tattooing. Go to a reputable tattooing studio that employs only pr...
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      Safety precautions
      Here's some safety advice from the Mayo Clinic:

      • Don't attempt to tattoo yourself or allow an untrained friend to do the tattooing. Go to a reputable tattooing studio that employs only properly trained employees.

      • Make sure the tattoo artist washes his or her hands and wears a fresh pair of protective gloves for each procedure.

      • Make sure the tattoo artist removes the needle and tubes from sealed packages before your procedure begins. Any pigments, trays or containers should also be unused.

      • Make sure the tattoo artist uses a heat sterilization machine (autoclave) to sterilize all non-disposable equipment between customers.



      Tattoo care

      The Mayo Clinic advises that, in most cases, you should:

      • Remove the bandage after 24 hours. Apply an antibiotic ointment to the tattooed skin while it's healing.

      • Keep the tattooed skin clean. Use plain soap and water and a gentle touch. While showering, avoid direct streams of water on the newly tattooed skin. Pat, don't rub, the area dry.

      • Apply a mild moisturizer to the tattooed skin several times a day.

      • Keep the tattooed area out of the sun for at least a few weeks.

      • Stay out of pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water while your tattoo is healing.

      • Don't wear anything that might stick to the tattoo.

      • Allow up to two weeks for healing. Don't pick at any scabs, which increases the risk of infection and can damage the design and cause scarring.

      • If you think your tattoo might be infected or you're concerned that your tattoo isn't healing properly, contact your doctor.



      Know the risks

      According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are risks involved in getting a tattoo. They include:

      • Infection - Dirty needles can pass infections such as hepatitis and HIV from one person to another.

      • Allergies - Allergies to various ink pigments in both permanent and temporary tattoos have been reported and can cause problems.

      • Scarring - Unwanted scar tissue may form when getting or removing a tattoo.

      • Granulomas - These small knots or bumps may form around material that the body perceives as foreign such as particles of tattoo pigment.

      • MRI complications - People may have swelling or burning in an iron-oxide pigment tattoo when they have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This happens rarely and does not last long.
  • Forget what your grandmother said about tattoos being taboo. Body art is mainstream now. A Harris Poll published in February 2012 showed that one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo. That means if you don't have one, you know someone who does — even if he or she keeps it well hidden.
    Do your homework
    Tattoo artist Steve Anderson, owner of Custom Body Art in Medford, has been applying tattoos professionally since 1988. In the past few years, he's seen the competition grow, but not from other licensed professionals like himself. "One of our biggest competitive factors is people doing it out of their houses that are totally inexperienced," he observes, explaining that novices can buy equipment on the Internet and watch "how to" videos on YouTube.
    Anderson's advice to people who want to get tattoos is to do their homework and visit several shops. First, ask the artist if he or she is licensed by the state of Oregon. Second, ask to see the sterilization equipment. (Anderson's autoclave is tested monthly by an independent laboratory.) "An experienced artist isn't afraid to show you his equipment," Anderson says. The artist should also use pre-sterilized pigments and needles and wear a fresh pair of protective gloves. Third, look at the tattoo parlor itself to make sure it is clean. Fourth, look at the tattoo artist's portfolio. "That speaks volumes," Anderson notes. Finally, don't be a bargain shopper when it comes to tattoos. "Don't shop by price," the artist warns. "Shop by quality."
    Getting inked
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