Mom, I so want a tattoo!

Has your teenager come to you about getting a tattoo yet, or maybe wanting a piercing on some part of his/her body other than their ears? We all know that both body art and piercings are popular and especially tempting to teens who see them as a fashion statement or a means of self-expression.

Growing up, I often teased my parents about getting a tattoo. They passionately disapproved of the idea and I always found their reaction entertaining. I did think about getting one, but I could never decide on a tattoo that I was willing to wear permanently. I have friends who got tattoos in their teens or early twenties and almost all of them did so behind their parents backs. Thinking back, I don’t remember any discussions about the risks, inspected locations, or proper sterilization techniques. These are things that teens just don’t think about when they decide to get a tattoo.

So, if your teen really wants a tattoo or piercing, help them learn about the risks involved and encourage them to make smart choices.  Here is some information and advice you can discuss with your teen.

What are the risks involved with tattoos and piercings?

  • Both can be painful and can cause localized swelling in the affected area
  • There is a potential for more serious infections to occur including:

Reduce the risk of infection:

Don’t ever get a tattoo or piercing from an uninspected shop! It may be tempting for teens to have their body art done by an uninspected person because it will likely be cheaper. However, the risk of infection is much greater.  It’s much safer to get a tattoo or piercing by a professional who follows current best practices and is regularly inspected by the Health Department.

Here’s a list of inspected tattoo and piercing premises by municipality.  You can also call the Halton Region Health Department and ask for the results of their last Public Health inspection.

What you and your teen should look for:

  • Willingness to answer questions:  a responsible body artist will be more than happy to answer questions and explain their cleaning, disinfecting and sterilization practices.
  • A new sterile needle must be used for each client and taken out of sterile packaging just prior to the service. Ear piercing guns are to be used only on the fleshy part of the ear lobe. For cartilage and body piercing, only a sterile sharp hollow needle pierced by a clean gloved hand should be used.
  • Do they use an autoclave? Ask to see the sterilization records.
  • Is the shop clean? Look around. The work area should be clear of clutter and debris. A dirty shop can increase the risk of infection.
  • Are they washing their hands?
  • Do they clean the skin and apply an antiseptic prior to the service?
  • Only fresh ink should be used and poured in disposable cups for individual use
  • The artist and customer should not be smoking, drinking or eating in the area. All body art must be done while everyone involved is clean and sober.
  • Aftercare instructions should be provided to reduce the risk of skin infections

My child had a tattoo or piercing done at an uninspected premise. Now what!?

  • Contact the Health Department immediately and report the premise. A Public Health Inspector will follow up with the artist and conduct an inspection.
  • Make sure your child is seen by a physician and gets tested to ensure they are safe.

For more information on tattooing, piercing and other personal services visit the Halton Region website. If you have any questions or comments we would love to hear from you!

Share your experience:

To share your experience, or to get more information about tattoos and piercings, you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

About this guest blogger:

Stefania Cloutier is a Public Health Inspector who is certified in Infection Control. She has been with Halton Region for over 3 years in Health Protection Services and is currently with the Enteric and Vectorborne Diseases Team. As part of this team, Stefania conducts regular inspections of Personal Service Settings, consults with institutions on infection control and is involved in outbreak management in Halton Region. Stefania enjoys spending time with her friends and family, especially her 6 nieces and nephews.

This entry was posted in Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting Your Teen, Teens and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mom, I so want a tattoo!

  1. erica says:

    thank-you mrs.cloutier for all your thorough advice and information….

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