Only use a pro for your tattoo

If you’re planning on getting a tattoo, make sure it’s from a professional and not your friend, says a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an analysis of several dozen past studies, CDC researchers found that tattoos from non-professionals appear to carry a risk of the blood-borne liver infection hepatitis C.

That includes tattoos done by friends or family, or ones done in prison.

Between 75 percent and 85 percent of people infected with hepatitis C develop chronic infection, which can eventually cause serious liver diseases like cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.

On the other hand, there was no evidence that tattoos done by professionals carried a hepatitis C risk, the CDC said.

Skin is the largest organ system in the human body and is an extremely important one.

“Our skin is the first line of defense against all the germs, pathogens, and toxic substances we come into contact with on a daily basis,” says Steve Markham, Director/Health Officer for the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department.

Any time this defensive barrier (skin) is damaged due to cuts, abrasions, punctures, etc., either from injury or intentionally as is the case with body art, we run the risk of exposure to pathogens and infectious diseases, Markham said.

It is for this reason that the state of Michigan has passed laws regulating where, when and how body art is to be performed within its borders.

Beginning January 1, 2011, the state of Michigan has required all body art, including tattoos, body piercings, and branding to be conducted in a licensed body art facility.

The law states that no person shall perform these activities outside of a licensed facility. The only exception to the law is piercing of the ears.

The new regulations were enacted to ensure the protection of both the artist and client from bloodborne diseases and bacterial infections that can have serious health effects and could even result in death, Markham said.

Bloodborne diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and bacterial infections such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococci Aureus (MRSA) and Cellulitis can be transmitted by improper procedures or non-sterile conditions.

Michigan requires each body art facility to be inspected and approved prior to each license issued.

The inspections address physical characteristics, sanitary condition, equipment, the proper training of staff, and the policies and procedures of the facility, all aimed at reducing the potential to spread infectious diseases.

It is also unlawful in Michigan to perform any body art on a minor without first obtaining the expressed written consent from the minor’s parent or legal guardian, Markham said.

Michigan’s Body Art law imposes both monetary fines and jail time for those who ignore the regulations.

To comply with Michigan law and more importantly to decrease the risk of disease and other complications associated with tattoos or piercings, it is strongly recommended that you utilize a licensed Body Art facility when obtaining these services.

Currently, Dickinson County has three approved Body Art facilities. They are:

– Deft Tattoo Studio, 1227 W. Breen Ave. in Kingsford.

– Natural Look, 213 E. Breitung Ave. in Kingsford.

– Distinktive Tattoos and Piercings, 333 South Stephenson Avenue Ste, 205 in Iron Mountain.

Iron County currently has two approved Body Art facilities. They are:

– Judgment Day Tattoos, 514 Main Street in Alpha.

– Iron River Ink, 105 W. Genesee Street in Iron River

Performing body art anywhere else than at these facilities in Dickinson and Iron counties increases your risk of exposure to infectious diseases and is against the law.

Body art has become popular and widespread in the last decade, prompting the need for these regulations and precautions.

For additional information, please contact the Health Department at 774-1868 or (906) 265-9913.