A growing popular hangout for teens and young adults is tattoo parties. These are not licensed, registered tattoo parlors where sterile equipment is used.
Anyone who believes himself to be a good artist can buy tattoo equipment and hold a tattoo party where tattoos are done for free for the sake of practicing. To help teens and young adults strip themselves of their inhibitions, alcohol and marijuana are freely passed around.
Once the crowd is feeling good, the artist will ask for a volunteer. The rest of the crowd watches as a friend gets a free tattoo. There are several reasons for parents to be concerned for the health of their children.
Often, the tattoo equipment purchased by the budding artist is used. Without learning the proper way to clean the tools used, the artist sets up shop at a tattoo party. If the equipment is new, the first person tattooed may get by unscathed, however, she may not actually get the tattoo she was hoping for. Drawing on canvas is very different from drawing on the human body.
If several people at the party receive a tattoo, each person is subject to infection from hepatitis B and C, HIV and tetanus. Some people are allergic to the dyes used and can get serious skin infections. Ugly rashes can occur at the tattoo site immediately or years later.
According to the Mayo Clinic, tattoos are permanent designs on your skin with pigments inserted through pricks into the skin's top layer. Typically, the tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine that acts much like a sewing machine, with one or more needles piercing the skin repeatedly. Very tiny ink droplets are inserted with every puncture. The process is done without anesthetics and causes a small amount of bleeding and slight to potentially significant pain, depending on the area of the body the tattoo is placed.
It is unlikely that unlicensed artists wear a new pair of gloves between volunteers, nor do they wash their hands between tattoos. New needles must be used with each different person, something a budding artist may not do to keep costs down.
Kids usually hide tattoos from parents, not seeking medical attention when the skin gets infected or reacts due to allergy. They surely may not realize they acquired hepatitis or HIV at the tattoo party. It may also be difficult to get an MRI later in life.
Even if everything turns out for the best health wise, there is still the issue of a badly done tattoo. These usually must be endured for life. Getting a tattoo while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is simply a dumb thing to do.
Parents may want to discuss these dangers with kids before they begin dating. Once kids are on the dating scene or old enough to drive themselves to a friend's house, parents may not know their children are attending tattoo parties. Some teens have died due to allergic reactions to the ink.
Teens may not realize that it takes two weeks or longer for the skin to heal. They must put antibiotic cream on the tattoo while it heals. Kids need to keep the tattooed area clean, change bandages often, not wear abrasive clothing or go swimming until the skin heals.