Teen Tattoo Parties

Teens dancing at a partyIn these tough economic times, the fact is, most African American youths get their tattoos unprofessionally. These tattoos obtained in their friend’s basements, or at tattoo parties are cheaper, faster, and a lot more dangerous than most people think. Amateur tattoo ‘artists’ are literally learning their trade in the city streets and on the canvas of our children’s bodies.

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What’s wrong with an inexpensive home-made tattoo? Aside from the questionable artistic value and poor choice of subject (amateur tattooists will put anything the teen asks on them including boyfriend’s names, vulgar sayings, and downright insults); these tattooists are also unknowingly spreading potentially fatal diseases to all involved.

Because the tattooist bought their equipment, ink, and needles online, there is no control on whether they actually know what they were doing. There is no sterilization of the equipment (you would need an autoclave oven), and frequently, the street tattooist will offer a ‘discount’ on a used needle. That discount may end up costing a large price later in life.

These tattoo party organizers have not been trained in disease transmission prevention, the possible side effects of different inks, the tendency of the teen’s skin to react badly, or the countless other issues that should be considered when permanently altering the body. And they really don’t care because after the party, they move on without any accountability for bad outcomes.

To throw a tattoo party, these amateur artists will find a ‘host’ who will get paid either a cut of the night’s profits, or a set fee. Free alcohol and food sets the mood for impulsive decisions, and by morning, a frequently regrettable tattoo is the result. Many will never see the tattooist again. Questions about tattoo after-care, prevention of infection, allergy treatment, or skin changes can never be asked or answered. In addition, the teen will frequently hide the new tattoo from their parents for an extended period of time until they are accidentally discovered months later.

Tattoo party tattoos are the worse kind of tattoos because the art is frequently inferior, the content is poorly thought through, and the risk for infection is high. Talk to your teens about tattoo parties and the dangers of going. They will thank you later in life.

greg-hallBy Dr. Greg L. Hall

Gregory L. Hall, MD is a primary care physician practicing in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of the middle school health education supplement, “Teens, Tattoos, & Piercings: The health and social impact of permanent body art.”

After graduation from Williams College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he attended the Medical College of Ohio, and completed residency in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Hall serves on the teaching faculty at Case Western Reserve University’s College of Medicine and is the Chairman of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health. He also sits on the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and is Medical Director of Community Outreach at Saint Vincent Charity Medical Center.

Please find a  link to his book here: http://teenstattoosandpiercings.com/