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Piercings

 
Thinking about getting a tattoo or piercing? Learn about the risks, what to consider when choosing a body artist, and what to look for to ensure a safe visit.

The decision to get a tattoo or piercing is one that should involve serious thought and planning. Do your research before deciding on a body artist to ensure a safe visit and don't be afraid to ask questions! A good body artist will answer all of your questions openly and truthfully.

Are tattoos and piercings safe?

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  • When done by a professional body or tattoo artist who takes the proper precautions to protect customers and themselves, yes.
  • Piercings and tattoos can increase the risk of contracting blood borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.
  • Touching the newly pierced or tattooed area with dirty hands can cause infections.
  • We strongly recommend a Hepatitis B vaccination before getting a piercing or tattoo.

What are the risks?

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  • Make sure you watch your body artist open the packaging of your brand new sterile needle. Reusing needles for piercings or tattoos is like sharing injectable drug needles.
  • Piercing devices should only be used for earlobes (or not at all).
  • Old jewelry can hold viruses, so choose new, sterile jewellry for your piercing. Surgical steel is best.
  • Ensure your tattoo artist uses only fresh ink for your tattoo. Ask to see your ink poured into new, disposable “caps”. A virus can survive for a long time in ink.

What should I consider when choosing the location of my tattoo or piercing?

  • Some areas on the body can become infected more easily than others.
  • Some sites have different amounts of pain.
  • Think about how you might feel about your choice 5-10 years from now.
  • Do you want your tattoo or piercing to always remain visible?

How do I care for my piercing or tattoo?

  • Always wash your hands before touching any new piercing or tattoo.
  • The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your the site to heal.
  • Follow the steps as given by your body artist to care for your piercing(s) or tattoo.
  • Make sure a sterile, non-stick bandage covers your new tattoo when you leave.
  • If you have a mouth piercing, you must clean your mouth many times a day to prevent infection.
  • Take a shower rather than a bath. If you prefer a bath, clean the tub well before each use.
  • If any piercing or tattoo becomes sore, red, swollen or oozes pus, you may have an infection. See your doctor immediately.
  • The body artist should give you a written list of things to do to prevent infection.

What should I consider when choosing a body artist/shop?

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  • Take the time to find a professional. How long was their training?
  • Shop around before you get a piercing or tattoo. Get all of your questions answered.
  • The body artist should not drink alcohol or take drugs while working on you.
  • Is the shop clean? A dirty shop increases your risk of infection, which could ruin your piercing or tattoo and be harmful to your health.
  • Do they sterilize equipment and disinfect work surfaces to remove blood and body fluids?
  • Do they use an autoclave?
  • Do they have a sink to wash their hands?
  • If the area needs shaving, is a new disposable razor used?
  • Do they clean the area with soap and water and then wipe with an antiseptic swab?
  • Do they use new sterile gloves for each piercing or tattooing?
  • Are new disposable needles used?

Remember: A good body artist will answer all of your questions – just ask them!

How long do tattoos and piercings take to heal?

Tattoos:

Tattoos can take up to six weeks to heal. Make sure to follow proper care instructions to prevent infection.

Piercings:

Placement

Time

Earlobe

6 - 8 weeks

Ear cartilage

4 months - 1 year

Eyebrow

6 - 8 weeks

Nostril

2 - 4 months

Nasal septum

6 - 8 months

Nasal bridge

8 - 10 weeks

Tongue

4 weeks

Lip

2 - 3 months

Nipple

3 - 6 months

Navel

4 months - 1 year

Female genitalia

4 - 10 weeks

Male genitalia

4 weeks - 6 months

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