ABOUT BODY ART
More college students are increasingly interested in body art, which includes tattoos, body piercing and branding.
- TATTOOS are permanent marks or designs applied to the skin via colored inks deposited into the dermis layer with a professionally designed or homemade instrument.
- BODY PIERCING refers to the penetration of the skin with a sharp implement to create an opening through which jewelry can be worn.
- BRANDING, or scarification, involves the application of a hot object or cuts made to the skin, in order to create a permanent design or mark.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN TATTOOING, PIERCING, OR BRANDING
If you have body art, or if you are thinking about getting a tattoo, piercing, or branding, consider the following to achieve a maximum level of satisfaction with a minimal amount of risk:
Tattoos, brands, and some forms of body piercing are usually PERMANENT. They come with no money-back guarantees. While tattoos can sometimes be removed by a laser procedure, this can cost anywhere from ten to forty times the cost of the tattooing and may still leave a scar.
Consider a two-step procedure. Have a stencil of the design applied first and receive the actual tattoo on a subsequent day.
Consider taking a friend or a support person along when getting your body art. This may enhance your level of comfort during the procedure.
Choose the artist and studio carefully. Prior to getting your body art, talk to others who have used that artist about why they choose the person they did, whether they still like their body art and what, if any, concerns they had.
Remember that, currently, there are no uniform training programs, licensing procedures for body artists, or laws governing what they do.
SAFETY AND HYGIENE PRACTICES - WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
- The artist and his/her studio should appear neat and clean.
- The artist should wash his/her hands carefully, prior to performing the procedure.
- The artist should wear a new pair of disposable latex gloves.
- Needles and tattoo inks should be brand new and sterile. A reputable artist will open sterilized needles and inks in front of you.
- The area to receive the body art should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- The artist should carefully review any possible risks or complications with you before the body art is performed. He/she should provide you with aftercare instructions and answer any of your questions to your satisfaction.
- Ear piercing guns cannot be adequately sterilized and are inappropriate for anything else other than earlobes.
GENERAL AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR BODY ART
Keep the area clean and dry until it is completely healed. Healing times for body piercing are variable, depending on the type and location of your piercing, as well as your pattern.
Apply a topical antibiotic and/or antibacterial cleanser to the site as directed.
Cover tattoos with sunscreen to avoiding fading of the design.
Select the correct size and type of jewelry for particular piercing. Jewelry used with a new piercing should be surgical steel or other implant quality materials.
Monitor the site for signs of infection or other problems.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER
The following signs and symptoms might indicate that you need to seek medical attention for your body art:
REDNESS and/or SWELLING that extend beyond a quarter of an inch from the site of the body art. (Some swelling is normal with body piercing; redness is to be expected with branding.)
Thick yellow or green-colored DISCHARGE seen at the site of the body art.
Increasing levels of discomfort or PAIN at the site of the body art.
Continued BLEEDING or oozing of fluid at the site of the body art.
Increasing RED STREAKS originating from the site of the body art.
FEVER and/or a localized area of HEAT or WARMTH at the site of the body art (localized heat is normal for branded areas).
SWOLLEN GLANDS (lumps felt underneath the adjoining tissue) near the site of the body art.
Remember, whenever the skin is penetrated with a needle or other device, there is always the possibility of infections, especially blood-borne diseases, like hepatitis or HIV, so be careful and be safe!
APPROXIMATE HEALING TIMES FOR BODY ART:
Flesh tunnels can take 2-4 months or longer to heal, depending on size and location.
Tattoos take approximately 2-3 weeks to heal.
Branding takes approximately 3-6 weeks to heal.
OUTREACH PROGRAMS AND AWARENESS EVENTS
The Center for Health Education and Promotion staff (Peer Health Educators and Professional Health Education staff) offer a variety of educational and interactive outreach programs that can be scheduled at your convenience. Although not listed, the outreach program linked to this health issue is
- Navels, Nipples, Noses, OH MY!
Also available is programming for credit card debt, gambling awareness, and other topics. If there is something that you have an interest in but do not see it listed, please contact us and we will work together to determine what will best meet your needs.
Our resource area contains brochures, articles, bulletin board packets, books, videos, and handouts on a wide variety of health related topics. If we don't have it, we will help you find it!