Being safe when choosing tattoo parlors - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Being safe when choosing tattoo parlors

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Tattoos, you either love them or hate them.

But, if you go to a tattoo parlor that isn't up to health codes, you could be getting more than you bargain for.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported that tattoos were being given with unsterilized water, causing serious infections.

So, what should you look for before going to get ink?

Justin Kontzen has been a tattoo artist for 20 years. In that time, he's given hundreds of people ink that represent a bit of their personality.

"People are more interested in it being an art form, pretty much, instead of just putting a bunch of stickers on you," says Kontzen. "The point of it is to decorate or customize your body any way you want to."

Kontzen owns Aerochild Tattoos. People come through the shop everyday. Some first-timers,
others, repeat customers.

Kontzen says he treats his profession as though he were performing a medical procedure.

"You are causing an open wound, which leaves you open to an infection. Your skin is one of your most important organs," Kontzen says. "So whether you're getting a shot at the doctors office, or at the dentist, or getting your blood taken. Your skin is broken, so there's an open wound for bacteria to get into. So it's very important that when you're getting tattooed to get tattooed in a clean environment."

Kontzen makes it a point to keep his parlor clean and sterile.

It is certified, inspected and meets all standards of the Jefferson County Department of Health.

Jonathan Stanton with the JCDH says Jefferson County parlors are inspected twice a year.

So far, Stanton says all have passed every inspection.

"We want to make sure the artists are clean. We want to make sure there can be no cross contamination, when they're dealing with a sensitive area. Also to scrub an area before a tattoo is applied and after to make sure any pathogens are killed in those areas," says Stanton.

Kontzen and Stanton say if you're looking to get a tattoo, be sure you're getting it from a licensed professional.

"You should look at their portfolio, if you are impressed with their portfolio, then get tattooed by them. If you aren't impressed, go somewhere else," says Kontzen.

The Jefferson County Department of Health wants your help keeping tattoo parlors clean. If you have any infections or notice any parlors that do not appear to be sanitary call 205-933-9110