Tattooing and Body Piercing

Tattoos and body piercings have become very fashionable in recent years and the number of premises providing such services throughout Ireland has greatly increased. What is not often known however is that there is no regulation of such businesses in Ireland.

There are no registration requirements, no minimum structural or operational standards to be attained before opening such a business, no basic training requirements for staff and no age of consent/ medical history requirements for those availing of such services. Consequently these premises are not included in any inspection programme by Environmental Health Officers and receive no regular or routine visits from any statutory inspectorate.

If not performed to the highest standards, tattooing and body piercing can potentially be an extremely hazardous practice.  They should only be undertaken by a competent person with appropriate training in suitable premises. Members of the public should be very careful of the where they chose to avail of such services and should satisfy themselves of the hygiene practices and knowledge of those offering the service.

The risks associated with tattooing and body piercing can range from acute infections to allergic reactions and can occur when the piercing or tattooing equipment becomes contaminated either from contact with dirty surfaces, dirty hands or from the infected body fluids/blood of either the staff member or a previous client.

While most people associate tattooing with serious infectious risks such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, even the most localised infection can be life threatening if it enters the blood stream and goes untreated.

In addition there may also be a risk of an allergic reaction to with the inks or metals being used or even to the latex gloves being worn by the service provider.

While there is no specific legislation governing this service sector Environmental Health Officers do follow up and investigate confirmed cases of infectious disease which may have originated in such a premises and as a profession EHOs have been lobbying to have legislation introduced to strengthen their powers in this regard.

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