By James “Hollywood”Macecari
Figured I change it up a little bit today and take a look at something many people do not think twice about. Tattoos and Body Piercings. Before Insane Throttle Biker News I was a Tattooist and Master Body Piercer. Owned two successful Tattoo and Body Piercing shops and had the honor of training some of the best artist now in Illinois and Wisconsin. After roughly 23 years in the business I was able to sell the shops and go full time building up the Throttle.
I started tattooing in the very early 90’s. Taught by a old scooter tramp that had been doing it for about 16 years at the time. Back in those days tattoos were only reserved for us bikers and then convicts and military. Tattoos were still very much taboo when I started out. It sure isn’t like it is today, tattoo shops on every corner and even the professionals like doctors and lawyers were getting full sleeved.
If the younger generation actually seen how we use to do things back then they would go on a freak rampage lol. Blood Borne Pathogens was something that wasn’t even in our vocabulary back then. We use to tattoo without gloves, smoke cigarettes and weed right there with the customers. We would do tattoo parties at motorcycle clubhouses or at private homes and wouldn’t think twice about it. Something now a days you wouldn’t want to try not only because of all the laws governing tattoos, but the fact that some pretty serious diseases are now out there.
The disease we always worried about back in the day were Hep C . It was a recently discovered in 89 and when the CDC bulletins started coming out it really put a spook into the tattoo industry. Hep C is a very hardy virus that can live on a counter top for days until it dies off. Unlike AIDS or HIV once out of it’s environment dies real quick. Then there is always the mighty MRSA. That is some nasty ass shit right there.
Fast forward to 2018 and most of those diseases we use to worry about back in the day are now child’s play compared to what someone can get if proper sterile procedures are not carried out. The biggest fear now is the super resistant bacteria infections that can cause sepsis within days. These are the types of infections that do not respond to any antibiotics because they have evolved to beat the very treatment that was suppose to kill it because American Doctors and their mighty wisdom kept over prescribing antibiotics to people.
Most of these infections are caused by cellulitis at first. This is one of the most common infections that someone can get from an untrained person doing a tattoo. Usually they work the skin over so much with the wrong needle configuration they start scarring the under layers of the skin. As they work that needle any airborne or bacterial picked up from dipping the needle into water or artist touching something with his glove can pick up bacteria and work it right into the wound. When the bacterial gets introduced you will usually see extreme redness and swelling after a few hours after the tattoo gets done. Depending on what kind of bacteria that has been introduced, the infection can go one or two ways. Antibiotics can usually cure cellulitis or it can progress into something a lot more lethal like Antibiotic Resistant MRSA.
Ever wonder why Tattoo Artist tell you not to swim after getting a tattoo for at least 4 weeks? Because when you get a tattoo you now have a wound. It has to heal just like any other wound does. Going swimming, especially in a public pool, river or stream will introduce some nasty ass bacterial into your bloodstream that is hard to get rid of. Vibriosis, causes 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths every year in the United States. It’s mostly found in Coastal Waters and is a mean bitch.
Related : How to spot an infected tattoo
Another thing you want to watch for when getting a tattoo is not only making sure that you check an artists portfolio, but the length of time he/she has been doing it. Ask them about their training. Believe it or not the tattoo industry has suffered something similar to what motorcycle clubs are facing these days. People going out starting up tattoo businesses not knowing what the hell they are doing or what kind of health risk they could put their customers in. Alot of these people buy their tattoo machines and starter kits off the internet. Look at a Youtube video and they are the next Kat Von Dee. They have no knowledge what so ever of the diseases they can get themselves, nor do they know how to prevent giving their customers something. So think about that next time you attend a tattoo party.
My advice, go to a licensed shop, talk to the artist, find out his qualifications, and most important look at his/ her equipment. If you see the station a mess then that’s the first clue to run and not look back. You also want to look at their ink brand. Only ink made in the USA is legal to tattoo with here in the states. Pigments like Eternal, MOMS, Intenze and so on. If you see any ink bottles like the picture below. Run. Those are inks usually packaged with Chinese tattoo kits off the internet. They contain all kinds of goodies you don’t want to enter your bloodstream. One being a high concentration of lead.
The moral of the story as it’s said. Go to a licensed tattoo shop or one that is under the temporary license of a health board. Even then make sure you do your research and ask questions. Do not put your health at risk because you feel pressured by an artist. Most importantly follow the tattoo care instruction sheets you are giving. 99% of the time infections are caused by the customers not following the aftercare guidelines. Treat your new tattoo like a wound and let it heal. Same goes for piercings. You have to take care of them if you want no problems with infections or them looking like crap. Overall, stay vigilant and educated to the risks of getting a tattoo. With proper care and steps before you get one can make all the difference in the world.