COLUMBIA, Mo. - A growing tattoo trend could put your health at risk, according to two local tattoo shop employees.
Online companies are selling kits so users can give tattoos at home and the fastest-growing users of these so-called "Do It Yourself" tattoos are teenagers.
One such company, San Francisco-based Stick and Poke Tattoo Kits, sells home kits for $30. The kit includes a needle, ink, medical gloves and a how-to book.
In the 25 pages of instructions, one of the steps is to wipe down a clean area to set up your tools. However, it doesn't detail what that means.
Eric Mezzanotte, an employees at Living Canvas in Columbia, said it is not that simple.
"So if you're doing a tattoo in your kitchen and it says 'make a clean environment for your tattoo equipment,' are you just going to lay down a paper towel because that's clean?" Mezzanotte asked as he read the directions. "They're not even going to talk about the fuzz that transfers from the paper towel to the needle you're about to push into someone else's skin."
Mezzanotte said he doesn't endorse this type of tattooing.
That's because tattooing yourself or others in your own home comes with high risks.
Gabe Garcia with Iron Tiger Tattoo points out the kit doesn't address the fact a home isn't a sterile location.
"I would say MRSA is probably one of the biggest risks you could run into, which is staph infection," Garcia said. "That can live on pretty much any surface."
MSRA is a staph infection that can be very difficult to treat.
Another concern about the kit is the instructions on how to dispose of the needle.
The instruction manual says only to "tape up the point" of the needle before throwing it away.
"Do you realize what we have to do to dispose of sharps properly?" Mezzanotte asked. "Just in my shop alone, the monthly cost of waste disposal from the company that needs to come here and remove all the dirty needles from piercing and from tattooing, that is almost a rent payment in itself."
It's a payment professionals said is worth every penny, because dirty needles carry all kinds of potentially lethal diseases.
Both Garcia and Mezzanotte highly discourage people from using home kits. They said the dangers they pose are not worth it.
"Anytime you get a tattoo outside of a professional environment, you're literally playing Russian roulette with you life," Garcia said.
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