In conversation with Diana Aishin Chang, co-founder of Iron Buzz Tattoos; one of the top-rated tattoo studios in India today. Here, we discussed the safety, sanitisation and COVID-19 situation affecting tattooing.
What sanitisation and hygiene precautions do you take in your studio?
'Following strict hygiene protocols has always been the Iron Buzz way. Not much has changed for us with the pandemic other than mandatory wearing masks and social distancing.'
Amongst the usual methods, our studio has been nano-coated with a self-sanitising disinfectant which not only kills existing viruses on surfaces but also kills any new virus that could find its way in. It's a three-month protection system.
As most people are aware, during the tattoo, gloves are worn throughout, fresh new needles and equipment are used for every tattoo.
Everything that comes in contact with contamination is covered with a barrier to prevent cross-contamination. We practice wearing new sets of gloves every time we remove them. It's advised to dispose them the moment they're removed.
'Members of many other tattoo studios remove their gloves for a smoke; for example, and they wear the same gloves again. I strongly advise against this.
Even tattoo artists wearing watches or accessories while tattooing is not recommended. Simply because your gloves don't cover watches and accessories; if these objects come in contact with blood - which it mostly will; there is cross-contamination. Just wearing gloves does not cut it!'
The only thing reused is the tattoo machine and grips (used to hold the machine and needle in place). The machine is sanitised before and after every tattoo. The grips go through an autoclave sterilisation; which kills microorganisms under high steam pressure. The equipment that's being autoclaved should be in an airtight sterilisation pouch to protect the equipment till it's time to reuse.
The waste that comes out of tattooing is picked up separately by a Medical Waste Management to be disposed of ethically.
'If we can be so careful within our studio to protect ourselves and our clients, why put the garbage pickers at risk? They have no clue of the contamination.'
Why getting tattoos done by someone other than a professional tattoo artist can be an unsafe practice?
If the artist is not a trained professional who has only learnt tattoo application skills and not learnt hygiene, then he/she is putting the client and him/herself at risk. Tattooing lies between the medical and the art field since skin and blood are involved.
The three basics that make a good tattoo artist:
1. Drawing skills- Creativity
2. Application skills- final product, the Tattoo
Do you think it's safe for people to now step out to tattoo studios and get tattoos now?
Yes, as long as the studio follows the right hygiene protocols. Only wearing gloves and masks don't account for hygiene. Ensuring social distancing in the studio plays a vital role in maintaining safety as well. Many people dwell on a misconception that they can remove their masks when indoors, which is also a massive threat, so we ensure at Iron Buzz, masks are on perpetually!
It's also unsafe to call a tattoo artist home to tattoo you for reasons a professional tattoo studio is a hygienically controlled environment.
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