Tattoos can be a means of artistic self-expression, can make someone feel like part of a group with a special symbol or be the result of impulsive behavior after having one too many on a night out with friends — but they can also be deadly, health officials warn.
Health educator Nancy Porter of the Richmond County Health Department in neighboring Rockingham, North Carolina, said environmental health staffers have noticed postings on social media sites showing “tattooing that has taken place in private homes, workshops, hotels and other inappropriate locations.”
Bonnie Knight of Cheraw chose a licensed tattoo parlor — Showtime Tattoo in Rockingham — for her latest custom creation.
“I’ve been coming here for years,” Knight said, “and I was a nurse for 15 years, so that should tell you something.”
James “Pooh” Jordan of Showtime Tattoo said he runs a clean shop.
“Everything we use here is of hospital grade,” Jordan said. “And we never re-use anything. Once it’s opened, we use it and then dispose of it properly.”
Jordan’s shop is clean and brightly lit and his storeroom is filled with individually wrapped tattoo equipment, with each piece certified that it is sterile.
Richmond County Health Director Dr. Tommy Jarrell said complications from bad tattoos can lead to many diseases.
Jarrell also warned that anyone receiving a tattoo from a tattoo artist without the lawful permit may be exposed to other people’s blood through dirty equipment — which can result in blood poisoning, skin disease, hepatitis and even HIV.
“There are documented risks associated with tattoos such as infections and allergic reactions. Infections are related to the use of unsterile tattooing equipment and needles that can transmit infectious diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis and skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, or “staph” and other bacteria,” Porter warned.
A sterile and legal environment is important to Jordan, and he said that’s what keeps loyal customers like Knight coming back.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.