Piercing safety information

I’m going to use this space as an ongoing information site to inform prospective and existing tattoo and body piercing clients of several safety and health issues regarding the body modification business in the New River Valley.  first of all, i’ll address the existing situation of tattooists and body piercers who are working without a license in both the Blacksburg and Radford areas.  let me clarify, first of all, that the individual shops may have an operating license, but many of the artists and piercers do not.  reported by several licensed artists that have worked in both Blacksburg and Radford, there are three shops in the NRV area in which no artist or piercer is legally licensed to practice in the state of virginia.

Remember, in Virginia, an individual tattoo artist or piercer’s license must be displayed in the shop in which the individual is working.  however, it is easy to counterfeit an expired license and change both the name and expiration date.  in addition, an artist can tell the prospective client that his name is the name on the license when it is not.  any tattoo artist or piercer licensed in the state of Virginia can be verified by logging on to the department of professional  and occupational regulation’s website.  go to:  www.dpor.virginia.gov  – go to “licensing and regulation” – then click “license lookup” and type in the individuals name and check the box for their particular profession (tattooist or piercer).  remember to check the box that says “tattooing individuals” or “piercing individuals”.

at this point, the thoughtful person is asking themselves, how and why is this situation being allowed to exist?  all the legitimate and licensed artists in the nrv area have been asking themselves the same question for several years.  as i’ll descrbe within the next few paragraphs,  the situation is clearly a public health threat of a serious magnitude.  the threat can literally be life threatening since an unlicensed tattooist or piercer has absolutely no training in the prevention of blood borne pathogens and cross contamination.  think hepatitis and methicillin resistant staph aureus.   the agency entrusted with the protection of public health regarding licensing issues is the “department of professional and occupational regulation”.  they have recieved multiple complaints from different people, both by phone and in writing over the past year, and there has been no effective response.

this  issue will eventually work itself out one way or the other.  in the meantime, i’ll endeavor over the next few days, to describe how the prospective tattoo or body piercing client can take steps to protect their own safety.   we’ll talk about the most useless question to ask a tattoo artist or body percer – “is everything clean?”   then we’ll go on to learn what you can ask, and observe, to protect yourself.  i’ll give you a tantalizing hint.  it’s not, “do you use autoclave sterilization?”

i’m looking forward to it.

saint john rowan