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July Cartoon: Teaching Clients to Care for New Body Art

Cartoon eagle with infected tattoo

Body art can be a fun way for people to express their individuality. It comes in many different forms: tattoos, piercings, brands, and more. But getting body art comes with a risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens — although professional body artists will take every precaution to avoid it.

As a body artist, you also have a responsibility to help your clients understand how to prevent infection in their new body art.

Best practices for explaining aftercare

After you finish a body art procedure for a client, it’s important that you give them clear instructions for how to care for it until it heals. The best practice is to give each client printed information they can refer to at home and to go over it with them before they leave your facility.

Aftercare can seem complicated, especially if it is for your client’s first body art procedure. Giving both written and verbal instructions will help your clients better remember what they have to do. It also gives them an opportunity to ask questions.

In addition, it’s a good idea to give them your contact information, or the contact information for your facility, in case they have more questions later.

Caring for new body art and signs of infection

In general, tattoo aftercare should include keeping the tattoo clean and dry. They also need to keep the skin hydrated and protected using an approved ointment. You might have ointment for sale at your facility. If not, provide a list of approved ointments they can find in a drugstore.

Also remind your clients not to expose their new body art to direct sunlight or place it directly in water. They should refrain from scratching their tattooed skin while it heals. Scabbing and peeling are part of the healing process.

Finally, teach your clients the signs of infection they should watch for:

  • Swelling or redness in the body art area
  • Skin is tender to the touch
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellow-tinted skin or eyes)
  • Headaches
  • Blisters or rashes

Ask clients to call you if they notice any of these symptoms so that you’re aware of any possible contamination problems. They should also seek medical attention.

If one of your clients does report an infection, work with your manager to try to identify the possible sources of contamination. If you notice any behaviors or processes that need to be corrected in your facility, take the necessary steps to do so. This will help prevent contamination events in the future and make your facility a safer place for your clients and coworkers.

For more information about performing body art procedures safely, check out our online bloodborne pathogen training.

— Jessica Pettit

Download/print cartoon: Tattooed Eagle

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