BRISTOL, Va. - The tattoo industry is expanding with more home kits available online. We found out it's creating a problem.
We went to Guilt Tattoo in Bristol, Va. where they told us they see at least one to two people each week who have tried to do tattoos from home and then needed a professional to fix it.
"We've seen numerous infections," said Travis Delp, a tattoo artist. "I had a client come in to fix something I couldn't. I had to just tell him to seek medical attention."
Delp has been a tattoo artist for eight years and says he's seen clients with tattoos that have caused staph infections.
"It's not safe for a client to get these things done without the proper professional doing them," said Delp.
We discovered the FDA recalled White & Blue Lion tattoo inks and kits in July because they contained a dangerous bacteria.
News 5 got in touch with the Virginia Department of Health to find out how strictly inks are regulated in the Commonwealth and discovered they are not regulated at all. Home tattooing kits are also not regulated in the state.
Nurse Practitioner Rob Rutherford explained the inks are not necessarily harmful but it's hard to know what's in them.
"If you are a person who has a skin allergy or a reaction to a metal component of the dye, one ink may be different from another," said Rutherford.
He told us staph infections make up the majority of infections linked to tattoos. The best practice is to get a tattoo somewhere that follows proper sanitary practices, according to Rutherford.
"Go and take a tour of the facility," he said. "Make sure the tattoo artists are wearing gloves, make sure they're changing gloves between clients, make sure you see evidence they are sterilizing their equipment."
We looked up the tattoo license requirements in Virginia and discovered there are strict rules on maintaining sanitary standards at tattoo salons.
Artists are required to commercially package single use tools and periodically test steam pressure sanitizing equipment. They also have to prove they completed the full series of the Hepatitis B vaccine.
Piercing artist at Guilt Tattoo, Scotti Lee, told us they encourage clients to tour facilities before getting a tattoo or piercing to make sure all employees are licensed.
We also checked out regulations in Tennessee and found out tattoo shops in the Volunteer State are inspected four times a year to make sure they're following proper protocol.
Tattoo artists are required to have a steam sterilizer and soak any non-disposable needles for a minimum of 30 minutes in a disinfectant, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
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