Finding a Safe Tattoo Shop

Back in the early days of tattooing not much regulation was in place in regards to the tattoo shops or the artists themselves. Fortunately, most states now have regulations and guidelines in place which help to protect customers from acquiring deadly blood-borne pathogens.
These guidelines usually dictate certain constructional requirements for tattoo parlors. Usually tile or vinyl flooring is required. You can imagine how difficult a rug would be to keep clean of blood. Rugs are also known for their germ ridden tendencies. Tile, wood or vinyl are materials that are easy to clean and maintain. Usually a sink with hot running water is required for hand washing and equipment maintenance.
Other guidelines typically include certain class requirements for the tattoo artists. Some states require that the artist take blood pathogen related classes so they completely understand the risks and dangers they can expose their customers to if they don't follow sterilization guidelines. In the end, it is really up to the artist as to how sterile and safe the working conditions are. Even if the shop owner and the state have certain requirements, the artist can bypass some of the rules and put his customer in danger.
You should familiarize yourself with what to look for in the shop you plan to patronize. When you walk into the shop, make a scan and see if it seems clean and organized. Ask questions about how they sterilize their tattoo equipment. Many shop owners have no problem sharing that information with you if they have nothing to hide. The tubes, grips, and other related equipment should be sterilized with an autoclave or dry heat sterilizer. In addition, some states require that their machines and cord be covered with plastic during the tattooing process. The machine itself cannot be sterilized so the plastic adds some protection from ink and blood.
Most shops now utilize single use needles that are sterile and new before they are used. After the tattoo they are safely discarded. This ensures no transference of disease from dirty needles from one customer to another. When a tattoo artist begins to work on the customer, they should open up a brand-new sterile pack filled with the needle he or she is going to use on you. Most artists will open their needles right in front of you to reassure you that they are using a brand-new needle on you.
Before deciding on a tattoo shop, visit the location first. Take a look around and ask questions. Then once the day of your appointment comes, watch the artist and the care he takes in keeping his equipment and area clean. Use common sense and planning and it is likely you'll receive a completely safe tattoo.

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