London, May 2: Health experts are saying that tattoo parlours should be rated according to their hygiene standards in the same way as restaurants and takeaways.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said such a scheme would drive up standards across the industry.
It developed the idea after its research brought to light that people were unaware of the extent of the serious health problems and skin conditions associated with poor hygiene at tattoo parlours.
The Institute warned that tattooing carries the risk of infection from HIV and hepatitis, as well as skin complications such as scarring and granulomas – knots or lumps that forms around the tattoo.
“We have no problem with people choosing to have tattoos – but as the popularity of tattoos continues to grow so does concern for the potential spread of infection. Many of the respondents [to a survey by the Institute] indicated that a hygiene rating scheme would help them when they were making a decision about where to have a tattoo,” the Independent quoted Julie Barratt, the Institute’s director, as saying.
At present, tattooists just need to be licensed with their local authority and are inspected under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which covers issues such as cross contamination and the disposal of needles.
They are re-inspected every two to three years depending on their risk rating.
Customers currently have no available information specifically on the hygiene standards in a tattoo parlour.
The Institute’s poll of 168 people found that 93 percent would only consider using a tattoo parlour if it had attained an “excellent” hygiene rating.
Eight out of 10 respondents said the present licensing scheme was not “adequate” and that it was too easy to set up a tattoo parlour from home or a studio.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of tattoo parlour owners questioned thought that a hygiene-rating scheme would benefit the industry by improving standards and driving out poor practice.
But Lionel Titchener, 60, founder of the Tattoo Club of Great Britain, argued that the scheme was unnecessary as local authority inspections already covered hygiene and that it was unlicensed tattooists working from home who were responsible for the problems.
“I don’t see any need for it. Tattoo salons are already inspected for hygiene by the local authority. Every shop I have ever been in has really high hygiene standards. The problem comes from people working from home who are not registered in the first place,” he said.
“Professional tattooists have very high standards. They need to, to get their certificate,” he added. (ANI)