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Tattoos & Piercings

Defining a Tattoo

By Indiana law, a tattoo is:

  • Any indelible design, letter, scroll, figure, symbol, or other mark placed with the aid of needles or other instruments; or
  • Any design, letter, scroll, figure, or symbol is done by scarring on or under the skin. Facial tattooing, i.e. permanent make-up or body art, is an invasive procedure and considered a tattoo. Examples include eyebrow pencil, lip liner, eyeliner, or blush that looks like make-up.

Laws Governing Tattoos in Indiana

In 1997, Indiana Code 16-19-3-4.1 required the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to adopt rules to regulate the sanitary operation of tattoo parlors. The rule, 410 IAC 1-5, became law on June 12, 1998, and was readopted on July 15, 2010.

The following are some requirements of the tattoo/piercing law:

  • All needles must be sterile and designed for single-use
  • All tattooists/piercers must receive yearly training concerning how diseases are spread by contact with blood
  • Gloves or other appropriate personal protection must be worn when performing tattooing procedures and when handling blood
  • Infectious waste must be handled properly according to Indiana law
  • Reusable tubes must be sterilized
  • To receive a tattoo, anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by, and have written permission from, a parent or legal guardian

Risks of Tattoos

Specific risks include:

  • Blood-borne diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C could be contracted if the equipment used for your tattoo is contaminated with the blood of an infected person
  • Granulomas, or bumps, may form around the site of the tattoo as a reaction to the ink
  • Inks may cause allergic reactions, such as an itchy rash, at the tattoo site
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams may cause swelling or burning of tattooed areas
  • Tattooing can cause keloids, or raised areas of excessive scarring if you are prone to them
  • Unsterile tattooing or piercing equipment or re-used ink can cause symptoms of minor skin infections, from redness, swelling, or pus-like drainage, to potentially serious antibiotic-resistant skin infections (ie: MRSA)