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Doctors Report On Tattoos: Health Risks Low (But They Might Hurt Your Job)

By DNAinfo Staff | September 19, 2017 2:55pm | Updated on September 20, 2017 11:35am
 Thirty percent of American adults said they have at least one tattoo.
Thirty percent of American adults said they have at least one tattoo.
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CHICAGO — In what is being billed as the first clinical report on tattooing, the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with recommendations on the practice.

"Tattoos and body piercings are an increasingly popular form of self-expression, but it is important for young people to carefully consider the consequences and potential risks associated with body modifications," a summary of the report states.

Here are the highlights:

• While health risks from getting a tattoo from a professional is "likely low," infections can and do happen. Hepatitis C or HIV can be transmitted though tattooing, especially those done by amateurs. Look for clean tattoo shops where the artists use disposable gloves and needles from sealed containers.

• The report cites Harris Poll data from 2016 that found about 30 percent of American adults said they have at least one tattoo. That's up from 20 percent in 2012.

A Pew Research Center report in 2010 found that 38 percent of 18 to 29 year olds had at least one tattoo.

• Some 86 percent said they don't regret getting a tattoo. Asked about feelings associated with tattoos, 30 percent said the markings made them feel sexier and a quarter said it made them feel rebellious.

But the report cites a 2014 study where 76 percent thought that tattoos or piercings had hurt their chances of getting a job.

"Consequently, adolescents and young adults contemplating body modification may be well advised to make sure the tattoo or piercing is not visible in typical work attire," the report says.

It also cites a study where 37 percent of human resource managers say tattoos "likely limit career potential."

• Older Americans tend to see tattoos more negatively: 64 percent of people over 65, and 51 percent of those 50 to 64, say that the trend of more people getting tattoos "has been a change for the worse."

• Young people "may overestimate the effectiveness of tattoo removal," the report says.

When getting a tattoo adolescents should understand "that tattoo placement is permanent, and it is expensive and sometimes difficult to remove them."

The authors of the report say that removal cost per square inch "can be anywhere between $49 and $300 depending on the location of the removal service."