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By Indiana Law, a tattoo is: 1. Any indelible design, letter, scroll, figure, symbol, or other mark placed with the aid of needles or other instruments; or 2. Any design, letter, scroll, figure, symbol done by scarring on or under the skin.

A needle, connected to a small machine with tubes containing dye, repeatedly pricks into the skin. Each needle puncture inserts tiny droplets of ink. The process, which may last several hours for a large tattoo, causes a small amount of bleeding.

In 1997, Indiana Code 16-19-3-4.1 required the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to adopt rules to regulate the sanitary operation of tattoo parlors. The rule, 410 IAC 1-5, became law on June 12, 1998, and was readopted July 21, 2004. The following are some requirements of the tattoo rule:

  • All tattooists must receive yearly training concerning how diseases are spread by contact with blood.

  • To receive a tattoo, anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by, and have written permission from, a parent or legal guardian.

  • Gloves or other appropriate personal protection must be worn when performing tattooing procedures and when handling blood.

  • All needles must be sterile and designed for single use.

  • Reusable tubes must be sterilized.

  • Infectious waste must be handled properly according to Indiana law (http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title16/ar41/ch16.html).

The rule does NOT:

  • Require a tattooist to register with the ISDH.

  • Require the ISDH to perform routine inspections of tattoo parlors.

  • Require tattooists to receive training or certification on the tattooing process.

Tattooists should contact their local health department for local laws that might pertain to the registration or licensing of tattoo parlors. Investigations may occur as the result of a complaint filed with the local health department. Some local health departments perform routine inspections based on county ordinances. Call your local health department for more information about inspections.

  • The tattooist and parlor should be neat and clean in appearance.

  • Patron (client) rights must be displayed.

  • There should be hand-washing facilities with running water available for the tattooist to use.

  • The staff should be willing and able to answer your questions.

  • Tattooists should not work when sick.

  • Tattooists must wear gloves when tattooing.

  • All equipment should be single service. Each needle and tube set should be individually packaged, dated, sealed, sterilized, and opened immediately prior to your tattoo.

  • A new ink supply should be poured into a disposable container.

  • Any razors, needles, ink, plastic trays or containers, gloves, or ointments used in your tattoo application should be discarded after use.

  • Appropriate disinfectants should be used to clean the work area after tattoo application.

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