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Infected tattoos land Sussex teens in hospital
Two Sussex teenagers needed hospital treatment after their DIY tattoos became infected.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has renewed its warning about the dangers of buying tattoo kits online following the incident.
The teenagers, who are now both recovering at home, developed problems when they tried to do the tattoos themselves.
The HPA says teenagers are trying to avoid the minimum age limit of 18 for legal tattoos by buying kits online and using them at home or tattooing each other or at ‘tattoo parties’.
The kits can be poor quality and come without instructions on how to clean the equipment effectively – or how to keep the tattoo site itself clean to reduce infection risk.
Using non-sterile equipment poses the risk of blood-borne virus infections such as Hepatitis B and C or HIV being passed from one person to another.
Poor tattooing technique and aftercare of the tattoo site can cause other secondary bacterial infections, leading to cellulitis or even blood poisoning.
David Hagen, a consultant in communicable disease control at the HPA’s Sussex and Surrey health protection unit, said: “Tempting as it might be to have it done cheaply and without rules if you are underage, it’s simply not worth the risk.
“Anyone who has had a DIY tattoo in the past or a tattoo from an unregistered tattooist and is concerned should contact their GP who will be able to offer tests for blood-borne virus.”
All tattooing businesses must be registered with the local council.
Anyone found to be running an unregistered tattooing business could have their equipment seized and face a fine of up to £1,000.
The Health Protection Agency, working with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, is due to produce a wider report on unregulated tattooing later in the year.
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