(WPRI) -- Today, everywhere you look, people from all walks of life have tattoos. That might lead you to believe tattoos are completely safe. But there can be serious health risks that can result in the need for medical care.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning about an increase in bacterial infections associated with tattoos. There has also been a recent outbreak of illnesses linked to contaminated tattoos. Hopefully if you decide to get one, you'll walk out of a tattoo parlor with a beautiful piece of body art that will last a lifetime. But as we've discovered, complications can occur.
If you want a tattoo, you can find many tattoo artists advertising online. But beware; anyone can claim to be a tattoo artist, but not everyone is licensed to practice. And that, according to health experts, could be a hazard to your health.
Rob Young is a licensed tattoo artist in Greenville. He says his shop is inspected by the Department of Health each time his license is up for renewal. His sterilizing equipment is checked. His certificates are checked. "We have a saying in this business," says Young. "Cheap tattoos aren't good, and good tattoos aren't cheap."
But everywhere you look online, you can find advertisements for cheap tattoos. And the artists themselves, according to the Department of Health, may not be properly licensed. And if they don't have a license, the Department of Health says that tattoo artist is not getting inspected. That means they could be putting profits before your health.
The FDA is also warning you about contaminated inks that have caused serious infections. Pictures on their website reveal one infection they are particularly concerned about. It's a bacterium that has been found in a recent outbreak of illness linked to contaminated tattoo inks. It can lead to lung disease, joint infection, and even infection of your organs.
Before getting a tattoo you're encouraged to check to make sure the tattoo artist is licensed. And check to see whether there have been any actions taken against them by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The Department of Health tells us if they get a complaint about an unlicensed tattoo artist, they will investigate it.
"They're supposed to protect the general public from any sort of health issue," says properly licensed tattoo artist Rob Young. "And these are health issues. And all it takes is one breakout and spread, and I fear that it will leave a black eye for the people that are doing it correctly."
If you are getting a tattoo and want to see the latest inspection report for a particular tattoo parlor, you can. The reports are free and public information. You just need to contact the Department of Health to get it.