How can I make it safer for my daughter to get a tattoo?
You're probably wondering what you should do if, even after you provide her with all the information, your daughter still insists on getting a tattoo. Well, one thing you can do is make sure she goes to a professional, reputable, and clean tattoo facility. A big step in achieving this goal is ensuring that the tattoo artist is a member of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT).
The APT is a nonprofit, educational organization founded in 1992 to address the safety and health issues of tattooing. Both the APT and the Society for Permanent Cosmetic Professionals (that permanent eyeliner you see on some women is a tattoo as well) have endorsed specific guidelines for their members to adhere to.
In addition, the APT has spelled out specific things that consumers should look for in determining whether a tattoo artist is following necessary safety procedures. Specifically, in addition to making sure that the tattoo shop is "clean like a medical facility," a potential customer should ensure that the tattoo artist always uses new needles that he removes from a sealed envelope, that he pours fresh ink into a new disposable container, and that he puts on new, disposable gloves before even beginning to set up his supplies.
Can tattoos be removed?
It's not uncommon for people to become dissatisfied with their tattoos, either because their tastes have changed or because the artist didn't do a particularly good job. (Also, you and your daughter should keep in mind that some job interviewers view prominent tattoos as a big turn-off.) Although removing tattoos is difficult, there are several options, such as laser treatments, dermabrasion (using a sanding disc), salabrasion (using a salt solution to essentially "scrub off" the tattoo), scarification (using acid to produce a scar to remove the tattoo), or camouflaging the area with skin-toned pigments. These methods of tattoo removal are neither cheap nor fun.
One way for your daughter to avoid the pain, expense, and hassle of getting or removing a permanent tattoo is to get a temporary or henna tattoo. Temporary tattoos are applied with moistened cotton and fade over several days. Henna tattoos last longer and are created by applying to the skin a dark, red-brown dye derived from the henna plant.
Most temporary tattoo dyes are approved for skin use. (Just watch out for foreign imports that are not FDA approved.) Henna is approved for hair dye use but not skin use. Allergic skin reactions can occur with both of these tattoo alternatives. All adverse reactions to permanent or temporary tattoos should be reported to the FDA. Your local FDA district office can be located in the blue pages of your local phone directory or by contacting the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Adverse Events Reporting System (CAERS).
What should I know if my daughter says she wants a body piercing?
In addition to tattoos, body piercings have also become very popular among adolescents. One Canadian study found that more than half of all students with body piercings got their first one before the age of 15. While earlobes remain the most common site for piercings, just about any part of the body can be pierced. The following is a list of the most common sites—and some helpful medical tips that your daughter should keep in mind.
Tongue piercings take 1 to 2 months to heal, while lip and cheek piercings can take 3 to 4 months.
The healing times I've cited for different piercing locations are averages. Sometimes, complete healing in certain sites can take up to a full year.
Jewelry for piercing should be made of surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, niobium, solid platinum, or 14K or 18K gold to help prevent a reaction. A plastic such as Tygon can be used as well.