Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Stick with traditional tattoos, don’t poke around with others

Tattoos might be too mainstream for some people. After all, the pain is tolerable and temporary. One Direction’s Harry Styles is covered in them. Heck, your grandmother might have a tat of her cat.

But if you’re considering getting the more alternative stick-and-poke tattoo, think again. Stick-and-poke is a type of do-it-yourself, freestyle tattooing. Typically, a needle is stuck and poked into the skin, where a thread will drip ink to make the tattoo. Sewing needles, safety pins or home-tattooing kits are often used.

These tattoos can be harmful, though. Some home tattoo kits are contaminated and might cause skin infections, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When using needles that don’t come directly from a licensed tattoo parlor, severe skin infections such as staph, and infectious diseases including hepatitis B and C, are possible.

Home tattooing can also make for an ugly mistake because of the way skin scars afterward.

Traditional tattooing poses a particularly high risk for those with heart or circulatory disease, diabetes or a compromised immune system, according to the FDA. With stick-and-poke tattooing, that risk can be heightened because tattoo materials may not be completely sterile.

To be safe, don’t buy tattooing equipment to use at home, and don’t try to become your own tattoo artist. When you’re considering getting inked, go to a licensed parlor and consult a professional artist.

After any tattoo, whether stick-and-poke or traditional, make sure you know the signs of infection. You should see a doctor there is excessive pain, swelling, blemishes, redness or weeping wounds. So stick with traditional tattoos, and don’t poke around with others.

About the Author

Ansley Pentz's picture

Ansley Pentz

UF Health News Intern

Ansley Pentz is a UF journalism junior who currently interns at UF Health News and previously served as...Read More