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Ask Before You Ink--Tattoos 101

By HERWriter
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Tattoos have been around for a long, long time. Throughout history, tattoos were mostly worn as decoration. Tattoos have been found on mummified bodies dating back to 3300 B.C. and it is well known that many socialites wore (and still wear) tattoos as part of their culture.

If you're thinking about getting a tattoo, there is one very important thing you have to keep in mind. Get it done safely. Make sure your body art adventure doesn't turn into a medical adventure. Keep in mind a new tattoo is also a wound. Like any other slice, scrape, puncture, cut, or penetration to your skin, a tattoo is at risk for infections and disease.

First, make sure you're up to date with your immunizations (especially hepatitis and tetanus shots) and plan where you'll get medical care if your tattoo becomes infected (signs of infection include excessive redness or tenderness around the tattoo, prolonged bleeding, pus, or changes in your skin color around the tattoo).

If you have a medical problem such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes, skin disorders, a condition that affects your immune system or infections (or if you are pregnant) ask your doctor if there are any special concerns you should have or precautions you should take beforehand. Also, if you're prone to getting keloids (an overgrowth of scar tissue in the area of the wound), it's probably best to avoid getting a tattoo altogether.

Some states, cities, and communities set up standards for tattoo studios, but others don't. You can call your state, county, or local health department to find out about the laws in your community, ask for recommendations on licensed tattoo shops or check for any complaints about a particular studio.

While regulations vary from state to state, you need to ask certain questions before you go under the needle, no matter where you reside. Here are four key questions to ask:

What kind of needles do you use?
Correct answer: Disposable needles. You want to know where your needles has been which should be nowhere else but a sealed package.

What do you do with unused ink?
Correct answer: It is summarily disposed of and never reused for other tattoos.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.