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February 2016

The Need for Greater Regulation, Guidelines, and a Consensus Statement for Tattoo Aftercare

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Louisiana State University, New Orleans
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento
  • 3Dermatology Service, Sacramento VA Medical Center, Mather, California
  • 4Department of Dermatology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York
  • 5Department of Dermatology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(2):141-142. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.4000

Tattoos are becoming increasingly common worldwide. In the United States, at least 21% of all Americans have 1 or more tattoos.1 Despite this, tattooing is minimally regulated. In the United States, tattoo inks are considered cosmetic products and are not subject to monitoring by the US Food and Drug Administration.2 As a consequence, there are no nationwide policies to ensure the sterility or contents of tattoo ink. In addition, there is no central oversight of individual tattooists. Instead, regulation occurs at the state or local level.24 Requirements, including those for training in sterile technique skills, preventing bloodborne pathogen transmission, wearing gloves, having biohazard disposal, licensing to operate a tattoo parlor, and requiring adverse event reporting, vary by location.1,5

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