Dangers of Tattoos Sometimes Lost on Teens

By Simon Zimmerman-

Penn Manor students have been inking themselves up more frequently, but are they aware of the serious health affects that can come along with the images on their skin?

As of 2003, surveys showed that 15 to 16 percent of American adults ranging from the ages 18 to 50 have a tattoo. Recent surveys, however, say that this number is on the rise and has reached as much as 24 percent.

Tattoos have certain side affects that should cause concern for anybody who gets one.

Pauly D of Jersey Shore shows off his tattoo. Photo courtesy of Tattoodonkey

Hepatitis B and C and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can be transferred from unsterilized needles used in some tattoo parlors and some freelance tattoo artists who work out of their home.

MRSA is a type of staph infection that does not respond to some antibiotics that are commonly used to treat staph infections. Hepatitis B and C, on the other hand, are inflammation of the liver due to infections of the hepatitis B or C virus.

Some students from Penn Manor say they are aware of these infections and do take measures to stay away from parlors that could be disease-prone.

“I knew I was going to a clean place so it didn’t bother me getting my tattoo,” said Penn Manor senior Kyle Black, who has a large tattoo on his side that says “young, wild and free.”

Black also offered that some of his friends who have inked themselves up have received ‘jailhouse’ tattoos.

A jailhouse tattoo, according to Black, is a tattoo that is acquired from a tattoo artist who is sometimes inexperienced and who operates out of their own home.

These tattoo artists are not regulated and may not live up to the standards of commercial tattoo parlors.  These amateur operations can have a reputation of being unclean because they are unregulated.

Black’s fellow classmate, Lauren Anderson, got a so-called jailhouse tattoo when she received her tattoo on her foot.

But just because they may undergo inspections, doesn’t mean all commercial tattoo parlors are guaranteed safe places to get a tattoo.

“I got it (when I was) underage at some guy’s house who used to work at [a commercial tattoo parlor] and stopped because there were cases of MRSA and Hepatitis B and C,”  said Anderson.

“He sterilized the needle so I knew everything was okay, I wouldn’t get a tattoo unless I felt completely safe,” Anderson continued to say.

Anderson said she does show concern for her health, but this is not always the case for many teens anxious to get their first tattoo.

As the number of  young people getting tattoos continue to rise, so do the number of cases of MRSA and Hepatitis B and C.  Those are two diseases that can be deadly.

In 2011, more than 18,000 deaths were attributed to MRSA in America. In the same year, 16,000 deaths were attributed to the more widely known threatening disease, AIDS.

At the same time, the rate of tattoos obtained by Americans ages 18-50 continue to rise and they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.