The Work Area and The Tattooist

The Work Area
The area where the actual tattooing is done has to be considered the “STERILE ZONE,” so never allow clients’ friends or onlookers beyond this obvious point. The decking should be covered with an elite grade of inlaid linoleum that does not have to be waxed. Wax and carpet in this area are forbidden, as bacteria thrive on and in both surfaces.
The worktable top should be covered with formica or high grade, non-porous Micarta, colored white. White shows dirt, dust, blood, ink, etc., more readily and sure looks good. A cover for the table and its contents can be made from a clear plastic or white #70 Denier nylon, coated with Scotchgard. This cover will protect the area from dust and dirt when not in use, and that area of the table that is not used when tattooing is in progress.

When you open the shop, put on a plastic apron and a good grade of commercial rubber gloves. Prepare a solution of Sodium hypochlorite 5.25% (1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water), and wipe down the table and chairs. Use the same solution on the floors, and re-cover your table. 70% alcohol is excellent to wipe down the table with, but it is also flammable. One may want to weigh its advantages against this disadvantage.
The work area should be well lighted at all times, even when you are closed, as bacteria like the dark. Utilize an air conditioner and a ceiling fan to not only cool, but dry the air and keep it circulating. Hot, dark spaces invite bacterial growth; a humid, stagnant area also adds molds and fungi.

The Tattooist
As we well know, bacteria love hair and the subaceous glands that lubricate it. If you wear a beard, it should be cropped short and your hair arranged in such a manner as not to compromise sterility. If you think it’s clean, have your doctor culture it for you. The results will shock you.
Keep your nails clean and cut short. They should be free of hangnails that can cut and puncture surgical gloves. Wear clean clothes and be fully clothed, e.g., shoes, pants, shirt. No rings or watches should be worn. The wearing of latex gloves (or vinyl) is MANDATORY while you are tattooing. A lap cloth of a disposable type is a good idea, as it should be changed between clients. If you have a skin disorder, such as an eczema on your hands, you are not to tattoo until it is resolved.

Filed under: Sterile Techniques

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