Health Departments across the United States mandate that body piercers use only disposable body piercing supplies (i.e. needles, tools, prep materials) or that they autoclave sterilize tools that are re-used (needles of any kind should never be used more than once under any circumstance). The question often arises; if my body piercer or tattoo artist uses disposable needles and tools, is my safety guaranteed?
The answer is no. Although using pre-sterilized needles, tools and body jewelry will eliminate direct contamination risk from those objects, there are other risks involved that must be considered. Cross-contamination can come from contact with surfaces, like the chair or table you sit on, or the walls and other surfaces within the room. Another frequent contamination risk is the mishandling of sterile items by un-certified body artists who are not using proper universal guidelines during the procedure, and will ‘contaminate’ a sterile item inadvertently. The other major risk for contamination comes from other people in the room, including the body artist him/herself. Pathogens from people can be either airborne or transferred through contact. A professionally trained body piercer must be certified in a blood-borne pathogen course which includes training on how to avoid cross-contamination during a body art procedure. Also, in many states (California included), body artists are required to undergo a series of Hepatitis B vaccinations to ensure they will not risk infecting their clients with Hepatitis during a procedure. Make sure the body artist you choose to entrust has their recent blood-borne pathogen certification and other documentation posted in plain sight for your inspection.