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Infection Control for Body Artists

Video 2 of 41
4 minutes
English
English
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Tattoo artists must be fully aware of the potential dangers of their procedures and how to prevent infection. Tattoo artists and body piercers must follow health and safety practices and clean technique to protect themselves as well as their clients from bloodborne pathogens and communicable diseases that include viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A tattoo is done by injecting ink into the dermis, the inner layer of the skin, with a needle attached to a hand held tool where the needle is vibrated up and down at a rate of several hundred times per minute. Infection can be spread through unsterilized equipment, contaminated ink, not handling needles correctly, and improper cleaning of surfaces and the client's skin prior to the procedure. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can be present on the skin of the person receiving the tattoo or the piercing. The tattoo or piercing needle that comes in contact with that skin where germs on the skin can contaminate the needle or ink and then become a source of infection. It’s so important for a body art professional to use aseptic technique for tattoos and body art. Aseptic technique is used to prevent cross contamination; in other words, it prevents the transmission of germs from one person to another or from one place to another. Visible blood on surfaces, instruments or needles is not necessary for infection to be transmitted. When working with a client, all surfaces and used equipment needs to be considered contaminated. The goal of using aseptic technique is to protect the body art professional and the client. Aseptic technique includes the following principles. The body art professional needs to cover his or her own skin that may have wounds, infections, or dermatitis. Also, clothing needs to be clean. Don't let used equipment come in contact with clean or sterile equipment. Maintain the cleanliness of all supplies by storing them in a sanitary manner that protects all items from contamination. Make sure that the disinfectants are properly stored and that chemicals are properly labeled. Use barriers like single-use gloves and gowns. Use proper hand hygiene. And when wearing gloves that potentially have body fluids on them, don’t touch other items. Remove the contaminated gloves properly before answering your phones, adjusting light fixtures, or picking up clean ink bottles, or getting supplies out of the storage. Now before you’re giving tattoos or piercings, properly clean and prepare the client's skin with a skin antiseptic. Ink shall be from a single use container and only used on one client. Ink that’s stored in bulk containers can be transferred to a single use container though. Now dispose of single use containers after each person. Never mix inks with tap water. Only use distilled or sterile water. Use disposable single use needles and follow safe injection practices. Immediately dispose of those contaminated needles, dressings, and disposable gloves, etc. Maintain a clean and sanitary environment by using a proper disinfectant. Disinfect your chairs and work surfaces between each client. Reusable tools and equipment must be cleaned and sterilized. Sterilization machines, such as autoclaves, must be regularly tested and serviced. Needles or other sharps that have contacted skin or body fluids shall be placed in a puncture resistant, closed container, otherwise known as a sharps container. There’s normally a line at the top of the sharps container that’ll let you know it needs to be disposed of properly. Now remember these are general guidelines to help protect you and your client. Each workplace must have a written exposure control plan that outlines the proper procedures that are specific to your facility in regards to the proper disposal of regulated waste. Use of engineering and work practice controls, and proper use of personal protective equipment all must be customized to your workplace.

In this lesson, we'll be covering infection control procedures and techniques for body artists. You'll learn how bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases are spread as well as a number of aseptic techniques to protect yourself and your clients.

Tattoo artists and body piercers must be fully aware of all potential dangers of their work procedures and how to prevent infection. They also must follow health and safety practices and cleaning techniques to protect themselves, as well as their clients, from bloodborne pathogens and communicable diseases that include viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

As most of you are well aware, tattoos are done by injecting ink into the dermis – the inner layer of skin – with a needle attached to a handheld tool where the needle vibrates up and down at a rate of several hundred times per minute.

Infections can be spread through unsterilized equipment, contaminated ink, the mishandling of needles, and the improper cleaning of surfaces and clients' skin prior to all procedures. And bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all be present on the skin of the person receiving the tattoo or piercing.

Warning: Infections can spread quickly and easily. A tattoo or piercing needle that comes in contact with skin where germs are located can contaminate the needle or ink and then become the source of infection.

Adopt Aseptic Techniques to Control Infection

It's so important for body art professionals to use aseptic techniques for tattoos and body art procedures. Aseptic techniques are used to prevent cross contamination, or in other words, prevent the transmission of germs from one person to another or from one surface to another.

Pro Tip #1: Germs are not visible to the naked eye, which probably isn't a shock to you. But it's important to mention this because visible blood or body fluids on surfaces or instruments is not necessary for an infection to be transmitted. When working with clients, all surfaces and used equipment should be considered contaminated and thoroughly cleaned. (Or what we call – better safe than sorry.)

The goal of using aseptic techniques is to protect both the body art professional and the client. Aseptic techniques include the following principles:

  1. Body art professionals should cover his or her own skin if there are wounds, infections, dermatitis, etc.
  2. All clothing must be clean.
  3. Never let used equipment come in contact with clean or sterilized equipment.
  4. Maintain cleanliness of all supplies by storing them in a sanitary manner that protects all items from contamination.
  5. Make sure disinfectants are properly stored and chemicals are properly labeled.
  6. Use barriers to protect yourself, like single use gloves and gowns.
  7. Use proper hand hygiene.
  8. When wearing gloves that may have body fluids on them, don't touch any other items. Remove contaminated gloves before doing anything with sterile items.
  9. Before giving tattoos or piercings, properly clean and prepare clients' skin with antiseptic.
  10. Use ink from single use containers and only use on one client. However, ink stored in bulk containers can be transferred to single use containers.
  11. Dispose of single use containers after each person and each use.
  12. Never mix ink with tap water; only use distilled or sterile water.
  13. Use disposable single use needles and follow safe injection practices.
  14. Immediately dispose of contaminated needles, dressings, gloves, and other disposable items.
  15. Maintain a clean environment by using proper disinfectant and disinfect all chairs and work surfaces between each client.
  16. Clean and sterilize all reusable tools and equipment.
  17. Place all needles and other sharps that have come in contact with skin or body fluids into puncture resistant containers, known as sharps containers.

Pro Tip #2: If you are using a sterilization machine, like an autoclave, make sure it's regularly tested and serviced.

Pro Tip #3: Normally, you'll find a line at the top of sharps containers that will indicate that they must be disposed of properly. Also, make sure that your sharps containers are clearly marked and change them out when full.

It's important to note that these are merely general guidelines to help protect you and your clients. Each workplace should have a written exposure control plan that outlines the proper procedures that are specific to your facility in regard to the proper disposal of regulated waste.

The use of engineering controls, work practice controls, and all personal protective equipment should be customized to your own individual workplace.

Pro Tip #4: In California it is not required to have red biohazard waste bags.