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Indiana Tattoo Laws

How does Indiana define tattooing?
According to Indiana Code 25-1-5, tattoo means, "any indelible design, letter, scroll, figure, symbol, or other mark placed with the aid of needles or other instruments; or any design, letter, scroll, figure, or symbol done by scarring upon the skin.

What laws govern tattooing?
In 1997, Indiana Code16-19-3-4.1 directed the Indiana State Department of Health to adopt reasonable rules to regulate the sanitary operations of tattoo parlors. Effective June 12, 1998, 410 IAC 1-5, established by the State Department of Health is to be followed by tattoo parlors. This law also states that anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by, and have written permission from, a parent or legal guardian. Tattoo artists may choose not to tattoo individuals under the age of 18, even if they have parental permission. Check with your local health department for local laws that might pertain to tattoo parlors.

What training must tattoo artists have?
Tattoo artists must receive yearly training concerning how diseases are passed on by contact with blood. Tattoo artists are not required to receive training or certification on the tattooing process.

Are tattoo artists required to be registered or licensed?
Registration or licensing is not required by the State, but check with local health departments for any additional requirements.

What should I look for when I go into a tattoo parlor?
Patron (client) rights must be display.
Gloves must be worn by the artist when tattooing.
Needles and tubes must be sterile. A new container of ink is used for each patron and needles must be sterile and used only on you.
There should be hand-washing facilities with running water readily available for the artist to use.
Appropriate disinfectants should be used to clean surfaces where there has been (or might have been) blood.

What kind of infections could I risk from getting a tattoo?
It is possible to get diseases from exposure to blood. The risk of infection is small when the tattoo artist is following the law. There has not been a documented case of HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) from getting a tattoo. But there have been documented cases of getting Hepatitis B and also there have been documented cases of Hepatitis C when unsterile equipment was used for tattooing. Other infections that are possible are: blood poisoning, Staphylococcal infections, and skin diseases.

What are some signs of infection?
Talk to your tattoo artist about what to expect after getting a tattoo. Although some swelling around the tattoo is normal, you should talk to your tattoo artist and to your health care provider if you have any of the following signs of infection after getting a tattoo: thick yellow or green discharge coming from the tattoo; continued oozing or bleeding; red streaks or hot sensation moving away from the tattoo; pain that continues or gets worse; and any unusual pain or swelling.

Could I become allergic to a tattoo?
Yes, but this is very rare. Sensitivity reactions occur most frequently to dyes containing mercury, chromium, cadmium and cobalt. The newer pigments do not contain these metals. Also, exposure to sunlight may irritate a tattoo and make it look like an allergic reaction. Always wear sunscreen after your tattoo has healed.

Any other health issues to be aware of?
You should never cover a mole with at tattoo, because it could turn cancerous without you knowing it. If you tend to form large, bumpy scars (keloids), these may occur in the tattoo. Also, your doctor should be aware of your tattoos (some show up on x-rays) and should feel comfortable assessing them for any reactions. If you are pregnant or have certain medical conditions, including diabetes, talk to your health care provider and tattoo artist before getting a tattoo. Alcohol and/or certain drugs can cause more bleeding than normal---if you have been drinking or using drugs, you should not get a tattoo. Alcohol and/or certain drugs may cause a person to have poor judgement. If you have been drinking or using other drugs, you should consider waiting until you are no longer under the influence of the alcohol or drugs to get your tattoo. Or, if you feel that the tattoo artist has been drinking alcohol or using drugs, you should wait or seek another tattoo artist.