When it comes to getting a tattoo, there are traditionally two choices: a machine tattoo or a stick and poke.
With the second option, you have the choice of going to a professional studio or, of course, doing it yourself or with friends from the comforts of your own home. DIY tattoos are personable, affordable, and pretty fun. That said, there are some precautions you need to take if you want to avoid infections and get the best outcome.
Here are some stick and poke tattoo precautions you should take, prior, during, and after you finish your tattoo.
Understanding the Risks of Bloodborne Pathogens
A bloodborne pathogen is a virus that is transferred from one person to another via the blood. The most common ones are HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. While you can contract these diseases through the blood on a needle or in ink, you have just as much of a chance of getting them from dried blood as they can survive out of the body for days.
It takes just one second to transfer a BBP to someone. For example, say you’re tattooing a friend and you need to top up your ink cup. By touching the ink bottle with your potentially already contaminated gloves, you’ve increased the chance of spreading diseases. If you then touch the bottle without gloves on when you’re done tattooing, you could contract a virus yourself.
With the above in mind, make sure to sterilize absolutely everything on and around your work stations!
Precautions to Take Before a Stick and Poke
Many wouldn’t use one needle on two different people but, you need to think outside the box as it’s not just needles that can lead to the spread of disease and bacteria. Before getting a DIY tattoo, you should consult with your physician as well as a professional tattoo artist to get their opinion. You should also:
Use the Correct Equipment and Sterilize Everything!
Yes, you can use a sewing needle but it’s not recommended as it won’t provide you with the best results and it may increase the chances of infection. Today, there are professional stick and poke tattoo kits available that include sterilized needles, ink cups, tattoo inks, surface covers, grips, and more. All of these come in individual packaging, making them a much safer option than the equipment you would find in your kitchen or sewing kit.
Before you start your tattoo, always shave the area using a new razor to avoid infections and in-grown hairs. Also, wipe the area down with rubbing alcohol and put on a pair of latex or nitrile gloves before you start the process.
Prepare for Your Tattoo
A stick and poke tattoo is just as permanent as a machine one so you should think about the design before you start tattooing. Also, avoid alcohol at least 24 hours before getting a tattoo as it is a blood thinner and could cause excess bleeding.
Precautions to Take During a Stick and Poke
Aside from sterilization, there are some stick and poke tattoo precautions you should take while getting inked as well. Here are some words of advice:
Listen to Your Body
Your body will tell you when you’ve had enough. If you don’t listen to it, you may end up fainting. While this is not an issue if you are with a friend who can help, it can be extremely dangerous if you are tattooing on your own. Additionally, you should stop the process and consult with your physician if you experience any rashes, hives, vomiting, or numbness. A small amount of blood and pain is normal but book an appointment with your healthcare provider if it is excessive.
NEVER Use the Same Equipment Twice
Regardless of how you do your tattoo, you should never use the same equipment to tattoo two different people. This includes needles as well as ink from the same cup, gloves, cover surfaces, grips, tongue depressors, wipes, and everything else used to tattoo previously. By doing so you are increasing the risk of the spread of harmful bacteria and diseases.
Precautions to Take After a Stick and Poke Tattoo
Just because you have finished your tattoo does not mean that all responsibility goes out of the window. There are some stick and poke tattoo precautions you should take once the tattoo is complete. These include:
- Cleaning the tattoo with antibacterial ointment
- Covering it with protective film
- Disposing of the needles at a local sharps disposal facility
- Double bagging and disposing of other waste correctly
You also want to keep an eye on your ink and follow the same stick and poke tattoo precautions as you would if you had gotten it at a professional studio. Here are some aftercare tips:
- Avoid direct sun exposure to the tattoo for two weeks
- Remove the film after two to three hours
- Reapply antibacterial ointment twice a day for a week
- Avoid water that is too hot
- Don’t go swimming and avoid direct sunlight for the first two weeks after your tattoo
If you are thinking of getting a tattoo from the comforts of home, why not check out our stick and poke tattoo kits? We provide everything from professional tattoo needles to inks, cups, as well as sanitization and aftercare materials all in one complete package!