Needle and Thread Tattoos: Understanding the Risks

Needle and thread tattoos come with their own set of unique safety risks and potential complications. Read on to find out more about some safer alternatives.

Tattoos today come in all shapes and colors depending on the artist, country, and culture. From machine tattoos to stick and pokes, new and ancient forms of tattooing can be found just about anywhere. But, when it comes to DIY inking, needle and thread tattoos are increasingly popular, especially those made with common household items. This alternative form of tattooing allows for extremely unique designs, however, it also comes with its own set of risks.

Let’s take a closer look at needle and thread tattoos, what they involve, the risks associated with them, and some potentially safer alternatives that you may find more appealing.

What Is a Needle and Thread Tattoo?

There are two different forms of needle and thread tattoos. The first one literally involves sewing the skin. The thread is dipped in ink and attached to a needle. From there, the artist inserts the needle and thread into the skin at an angle and pulls it out the other end. This form of skin stitching was created by indigenous communities around the world.

A more popular form of needle and thread tattoos is the stick and poke made with household items. In order to create designs from the comforts of home, people often use a traditional sewing needle and thread. Typically, the needle is attached to something to make it easier to hold. Then, thread is wound around the needle. When the needle is dipped in the ink, the thread holds the liquid better in order for it to be inserted into the skin.

The Risks of Getting a Needle and Thread Tattoo

While all tattoos come with risks, using a needle and thread multiplies them significantly. Here are two of the most significant health and safety concerns associated with getting a needle and thread tattoo:

Bloodborne Pathogens

A bloodborne pathogen is when harmful bacteria are transferred from one person to another leading to disease. This infectious bacteria can be transmitted directly from person to person or via an object that has been infected by someone. Some of the most well known bloodborne pathogens include hepatitis B and hepatitis C, as well as HIV which may lead to AIDS.

The risk of contracting a disease via a needle and thread tattoo is higher than with professional tattoo equipment because the materials used are often low quality and not sterile. Professional tattoo kits come with the highest quality sterile materials so that you can be sure that everything is clean. This includes everything from the needles to the ink, ink cups, surface covers, gloves, and more.


In addition to bloodborne pathogens, the risk of infection is higher using the needle and thread technique because people creating tattoo designs at home using household items often don’t implement the correct health and safety precautions. If you’ve gotten a tattoo from a professional in a studio, you probably noticed that they sterilize everything, they wear gloves, their work surfaces are pristine, and they take great care during the process.

The excitement of creating tattoo designs at home using household items can also lead to a lack of attentiveness. Simply forgetting to wash your hands, not wearing gloves, and touching different objects during the process of tattooing can increase your risk of infection. Moreover, thread is not sterile and is extremely absorbent, meaning it is a feeding ground for bacteria. No matter how well you look after your tattoo once it’s complete, you may have already opened up your body to a potential infection using this technique.

Safe Alternatives to Needle and Thread Tattoos

While you may be tempted to create your own DIY tattoos, it’s important that you use the right method to minimize the risks listed above. Of course, you also have the option to get a machine tattoo from a professional studio but these are expensive and don’t provide the same style as stick and poke designs.

The best way to create homemade tattoos is with a professional tattoo kit. These are an affordable alternative that comes with professional, high-quality materials, like those you would see in a studio. Some of the equipment you should look for in a professional stick and poke tattoo kit includes:

If you want to create your own designs from the comforts of home without jeopardizing your safety, check out our professional tattoo kits today! We offer a selection of different kits all of which come with the materials listed above. Some of our kits also come with practice needles and fake skin so that you can get to know your equipment before tattooing yourself or your friends.