Medically the review by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — written by Cara Williams top top October 25, 2021

Tattooing entails placing ink into the dermis great of the skin v a needle. If a tattoo artist does no follow proper safety guidelines, over there is the possibility of transmitting bloodborne viruses, such together hepatitis C. That is vital to look for professional and also licensed artist who maintain a safe, sterilized environment while tattooing.

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Hepatitis C is a liver disease that occurs due to an infection v the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is the most usual bloodborne viral epidemic in the unified States. This method that the virus stays in a who blood, and also people may acquire the epidemic after exposure to blood that has the virus.

Although that is an ext common for world to obtain HCV indigenous the transfusion of unscreened blood or from intravenous drug use, the virus can also spread when acquiring tattoos in unlicensed framework or when the artist usesunsterile instruments.

In this article, us will discuss the potential risk of hepatitis C indigenous a tattoo and whether civilization with hepatitis C can acquire a tattoo.


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Hepatitis is a hatchet that describes inflammation the the liver. Number of viruses can reason hepatitis, with the many common varieties being A, B, and C. These viruses invade liver cells, bring about swelling and dysfunction the can result in organ damage.

HCV is a bloodborne virus that causes hepatitis C. That is estimated that roughly 2.4 million people in the U.S. Have hepatitis C. However, many civilization do not know they have it, for this reason the true number can be together high as 4.7 million.

HCV infections deserve to be either acute (short term) or chronic (long lasting). As soon as a person has actually acute hepatitis, symptoms can last because that 6 months. An acute infection can become chronic if the human body is can not to clear the virus. This is common and also accounts because that roughly half of cases.

Most new cases that hepatitis C happen from contact with needles or other equipment used to prepare or inject drugs. This is regularly from share needles or accidental contact in health care settings. This can also include the use of unsterilized tools in unlicensed tattoo studios.

There is no current vaccine versus hepatitis C, yet antiviral medications can now treat more than 95% of civilization with chronic hepatitis C.


Hepatitis C spreads through blood-to-blood contact. Exposure to the virus may occur through blood infusions and also intravenous drug use.

If a human shares drug equipment, such as needles and syringes, they may risk exposure to infected blood. Injection drug use is the reason of 60% of brand-new cases the hepatitis C every year.

Blood offers undergo screening for problems that can transmit via blood, such together HCV. However, before 1992, healthcare specialists did not display for HCV. A human being who has actually received a blood transfusion or body organ transplant before this time may have been at greater risk that exposure come HCV.

Although less common, other methods hepatitis C might spread include:

Healthcare: due to the fact that exposure to a who blood is a possibility in the medical profession, there is the possibility of hepatitis C transmission if healthcare specialists do not follow appropriate procedures, return this is rare.Sharing personal items: items such as blood glucose monitors, razors, and also toothbrushes all may have actually a who blood ~ above them and also if shared may cause transmission that the virus.Unsterilized tattoo needles and also reused tattoo ink: Tattooing entails a little needle injecting ink right into the dermis layer of the skin. If the needle, or the squid the artist is using, has any trace lot of an infected person’s blood, the virus might spread.

Similar come hepatitis C, other bloodborne viruses such together hepatitis B and HIV may also be sent if tattooing tools is not sterilized.

A additional health hazard of tattoos is the potential because that an allergic reaction come the tattoo ink. A human being may develop an allergic reaction immediately, a couple of weeks ~ the tattoo, or, in some cases, decades afterward. Symptom of an allergy reaction might include:

redness and swellingitchinessblistersdeep lumpsfluid leaking from the affected area

A tattoo creates an open wound in the skin that has actually the potential to end up being infected, specifically if sterilized devices is not provided or if the appropriate tattoo aftercare is no followed. An infected tattoo may cause:

rednesspain that proceeds or intensifies after the tattoorashpus and also open sores

If the epidemic becomes an ext severe, a person may construct a fever and experience:

chillsshakingsweating

Treatment for such infections may involve a range of antibiotics and, in part cases, surgery.


The risk of hepatitis C exposure throughout the tattooing process comes indigenous the reuse of unsterilized needles that may still have actually a vault client’s blood top top them. If a tattoo artist does no use new pots that ink, blood may also get right into the tattoo ink.

Even if the blood is no visible on the equipment, hepatitis C have the right to still spread. HCV have the right to live exterior the body and on surfaces because that a long time, with some evidence from 2013 saying it can remain transmittable for as much as 6 weeks exterior the body.

To minimize the hazard of HCV transmission, a person should just go come a licensed tattoo parlor. The laws roughly tattoos differ from state come state. To ensure a safe and also hygienic environment, a tattoo artist will:

wear gloves transparent the processuse brand-new needles from a separate, sterilized packetuse brand-new ink and also containerswrap whatever they may touch during the procedure in plastic wrap

It is not advisable to obtain a tattoo if the artist does not follow these hygienic procedures, as it increases the hazard of health and wellness complications. To further reduce the danger of any infection throughout the healing process, a human should additionally follow the aftercare advice given by the tattoo artist.


During the acute phase of the infection, most people do not endure symptoms. If castle do, it typically occurs 2–12 weeks after exposure, back it have the right to be up to 6 months after. Symptoms have tendency to it is in mild and flu-like in the acute stage. They may include:

tirednessjoint painfeverloss the appetitenausea and also vomitingstomach paindark urinelight-colored stool

More than half of world with acute hepatitis C perform not clear the virus and go top top to construct chronic hepatitis C. The is usual for people to not have actually symptoms in the chronic stage or experience general symptoms such as chronic fatigue and depression.

If left untreated, chronic hepatitis C may result in chronic liver condition and liver cancer. Chronic liver disease in people with hepatitis C tends to construct slowly over years without plenty of symptoms.

Approximately 5–25% of civilization infected through HCV develop cirrhosis within 10–20 years. Cirrhosis is a late phase liver disease that permanently scars and damages the liver and also may lead to liver failure.


A person with hepatitis C might still acquire a tattoo, yet they have to tell your tattoo artist. Part artists may not be comfortable tattooing in this case, or may advise them come wait till their therapy is complete.

A human being with hepatitis C wishing to get a tattoo have to seek out an artist that is qualified and experienced in tattooing human being with hepatitis C. The artist might take more measures during the tattoo, such as wearing a mask or including extra plastic coverings ~ above surfaces.


If a human being has remained in an environment where over there is a hazard of exposure to HCV, together as during a tattoo, and also is experiencing any type of HCV symptoms, castle should contact a doctor. The earlier a doctor have the right to diagnose HCV, the earlier treatment may begin to clear the infection and also prevent any long-term damage.


Although rare, people can acquire hepatitis C throughout a tattoo. This can occur if a tattoo artist does no sterilize your equipment and follow appropriate, hygienic measures. Any kind of person wishing to acquire a tattoo must seek out a professional artist through a license who adheres to the exactly guidelines to ensure a clean and also safe environment while tattooing.

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If a person has an HCV infection, that is feasible for castle to obtain a tattoo. However, they must seek the end an artist with suffer tattooing human being with HCV. Informing the artist of the infection permits them to monitor extra safeguarding procedures to certain no complications occur.


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Medically the review by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — composed by Cara Williams on October 25, 2021