Do Your Tattoo Artists Need to Know Your Medical History?

Your tattoo artist can seriously injure you if he or she does not know about your medical condition before your treatment. Sadly, the artist isn’t to blame. Any tattoo or piercing surgery should be disclosed to your artist if you have a medical condition or are taking prescription medication.

You might think this doesn’t matter – plus, it’s your personal information, why would they need to know? It is understandable that you cannot disclose medical information to tattoo artists with 100% confidence, but you should understand why it is so important.

Situations affected include, but are not limited to:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • hemophilia
  • HIV
  • hepatitis
  • severe allergies
  • epilepsy
  • pregnancy or nursing
  • 6 months or less postpartum or weaning

Disclose prescription drugs before getting a tattoo

Acne Medications: You might not think of acne as a major disease — it’s not. You shouldn’t get a tattoo if you’re taking Accutane, minocycline (or any other tetracycline-related drug), or any other prescription acne medication. Skin irritation can be caused by prescription acne medications. In addition to causing severe pain and scarring, tattoos can be catastrophic.

Antibiotics: Disclose any antibiotics to your tattoo artist and discuss whether it is safe to proceed. While on antibiotics, some people have reported abnormal skin reactions to tattoos.

Blood Thinners: If you are taking any kind of medication to thin your blood, you’ll want to inform your artist beforehand, and probably also consult your doctor. If you’re taking the medication for a specific reason, it might not be a good idea to get tattooed, or it might just require shorter sessions.

Anti-rejection medication: If you have had an organ transplant and/or are taking anti-rejection medication, getting a tattoo may not be in your best interest. Make sure your overall health is good enough to handle the stress of getting a tattoo, and that your medications won’t interfere with the healing process.

In the event that I am turned away, what should I do?

Disclosing a condition like this to your artist might result in you being refused service, which is understandable. The good news is that this doesn’t always happen. An artist won’t necessarily turn away a client who is HIV-positive or has hepatitis. In most cases, artists recognize the risks associated with their job and practice Universal Precautions. However, honesty is always the best policy. It will be helpful for the artist to know so they can be on their guard and perhaps take additional precautions if necessary.

Disclosing a medical condition that is only a risk to you and not to the artist is just hurting yourself. The artist doesn’t want you to get hurt if they decide they cannot proceed with your tattoo or piercing in good conscience. People won’t turn down a paying client without a good reason.

Additionally, while an artist has the right to refuse service to a potential client for health reasons, you have the right to take your business elsewhere if you feel the artist was in error. No matter how healthy you are, someone will always be willing to take your money. If you know someone uses unsafe practices, don’t go to him or her. Is a tattoo or piercing worth dying for? No, probably not.


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