From the outside, working in the beauty industry, particularly in the field of permanent makeup, might appear all fun and glamorous. Too often, we are blinded by the external beauty of it all and overlook the important fundamentals, such as infection control management.
As permanent makeup artists, we handle sharps and are exposed to body fluids such as blood, lymph, and plasma regularly, just like they do in medical/dental offices and hospitals. So why should we take infection control any less seriously than they do?
If you have not been taking infection control seriously, it's time to start! Remember following strict safety protocols and precautions are not only to protect your clients, but also to protect yourself and your family from infections such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
It is our responsibility as ethical tattoo artists and practitioners to make health and safety our first priority above all, always. We must do our due diligence by educating ourselves on how to provide our services safely and keep ourselves protected.
Here are some of the many important questions you should ask yourself to ensure everyone’s safety!
1) Am I certified in a blood borne pathogens course from a reputable source?
2) Is my workplace safe for tattooing? Carpeted floor, non-wipeable fabric chair or bed, porous counter surfaces are NOT safe. Hand washing stations must be present on-site.
3) Do I have proper PPE’s and is my attire appropriate? This means hair tied up, no dangling sleeves or jewelry, and adequate PPE such as disposable nitrile gloves and masks.
4) Do I practice proper hand washing throughout my appointments and in between clients?
5) Do I have a full understanding of what critical, non-critical, reusable, sterilizable, or one-time-use and disposed items are?
6) Is my disinfectant wipe up to medical grade standards? Do I know how to properly use my wipes and allow enough “kill-time”? Lysol is NOT a medical grade disinfectant.
7) Is my trolly/tray set up to minimize possible cross-contaminations?
8) Do I know how to wrap my machine properly? Are my needles/cartridges safe from back-flow?
9) Do I have a bad habit of touching my hair, clothes, counter surfaces, chair, pigment bottles, camera, or phone etc. with my contaminated gloved hands?
10) Do I know what protocols to follow in case of an accidental prick, puncture, or exposure from a contaminated microblade, tattoo needle or cartridge?
When dental/medical professionals are trained in Canada, they are taught to follow what is known as "universal precautions." The term “universal precautions” refers to the concept that all blood and bodily fluids should be considered as infectious because individuals with bloodborne infections are often asymptomatic or unaware they are infected. Not all clients will disclose all known health information to you, and many are unaware of underlying health conditions or infections they may have. Without proper infection control knowledge and practice, preventable diseases and infections can easily spread unknowingly affecting someone for their lifetime.
An important question to ask yourself regularly: If you were to be tattooed by yourself, would you feel 100% confident and safe? If your answer is “No”, it is time for you to step up in your infection control game!