Press Release

First ever draft guidelines for tattoo & body piercing parlours launched – Chance for clients & practitioners to give their views

The Department of Health is publishing new draft guidelines for tattoo and body piercing parlours which advise on how to prepare customers for procedures, and how to maintain good hygiene.

The guidelines aim to ensure that high standards are maintained in the sector in light of the huge growth in tattoo and piercing outlets, and the rising number of people who choose to have tattoos and piercing.

Tattooing and body piercing is performed without incident in the vast majority of cases, but it’s important that customers understand the nature of procedures, and also the risks involved. Practitioners are required to comply with existing legislation. But there are currently no specific guidelines tailored for this sector. The Department is now seeking the public’s view of the guidelines and has launched a consultation process.

The draft document makes specific recommendations on how to:

  • minimise the risk of infection;
  • protect the health and safety of clients and practitioners;
  • operate within recognised rules and laws.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: “Tattooing and body piercing has become increasingly popular as a fashion statement and the number of premises offering these services has multiplied. However there are currently no specific guidelines on hygiene and infection control for this particular sector, beyond the general guidelines that already exist. High standards of hygiene are vital when performing body piercing and tattooing in order to protect the health of clients, and the practitioners.

“This document aims to improve the safety of tattooing and body piercing services provided to clients by promoting evidence-based infection prevention and control practice. The Department of Health and the HSE have developed these draft guidelines for the tattooing and body piercing sector, in response to a specific request from practitioners. We very much welcome this request and look forward to receiving input from the sector. The guidelines were developed by public health practitioners and environmental health experts. The Department of Health is now looking for feedback from members of the public and practitioners and would really welcome your views.”

The vast majority of tattoos and piercings occur without incident. However, there are certain risks involved with the procedures so it’s vital that practitioners brief clients in advance. Hygiene is also crucial because improper or unhygienic practices can cause localised infections or in some cases transmission of more severe blood born viruses. Other problems can include acute infections, allergic reactions to ink or pigments, skin complications including scarring, rejection of jewellery by the body.

Specific issues covered in the draft Guidelines are:

  • Good practice for infection control and preventing contamination, including personal hygiene and clean premises;
  • The use of template consent forms, and aftercare advice leaflets to clients;
  • The need to provide information, instruction, training and supervision on to employees on health and safety;
  • Avoiding the use of local anaesthetic injections or prescription only topical creams.

Details of the consultation and the draft document is available here.

The consultation will remain open until 15th January, 2016.