Tattoo Artists: Preventing Bloodborne Pathogen Transmission

Tattoo artists are in contact with blood and bodily fluids each day. You need to follow special safety measures to protect yourself and your clients from infection caused by bloodborne pathogens. These pathogens include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and other viruses and bacteria that can be passed through contact with an infected person's blood.

Bloodborne pathogens are potentially infectious microorganisms 

Bloodborne pathogens are potentially infectious microorganisms that can be transmitted through blood or open wounds. These include viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and parasites. Bloodborne pathogens include:

  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Many people do not know they have been infected with a bloodborne pathogen until years after exposure because there are no symptoms initially. If left untreated, these diseases can cause serious illness or death.

Healthcare workers who have cuts or wounds 

Healthcare workers who have cuts or wounds or who are experiencing symptoms of infection must not perform any tasks that involve direct contact with blood or bodily fluids.

  • Do not use needles and sharps if they have been used by someone else, even if the needle is changed (see "Safe Handling of Sharps").
  • Use the same gloves for each client; do not switch them between clients. If you must change your gloves during a procedure, discard those you are wearing before donning new ones. Handle blood and body fluids safely:
  • After tattooing a client, put used skin prep solution and all instruments in a container marked "hazardous" and store them in a refrigerator until further processing can be done by trained personnel at an approved facility; this will help prevent transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV through contaminated equipment.
  • Do not share razors, knives, or other instruments such as tweezers with anyone else.
  • Replace razor blades as necessary.
  • Place worn gloves and used sharps in the special container provided by your employer/employee health service provider so they can be properly disposed of.

Don't use needles and sharps

  • Needles and sharps should never be reused.
  • Do not share needles and sharps with another person, even if the needle has been changed.
  • Always dispose of needles and sharps in a sharps container immediately after use, even if they have been used on yourself (e.g. when tattooing yourself).
  • Protect yourself by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times during the tattooing process--this includes gloves, mask, or respirator mask designed specifically for filtering out bloodborne pathogens in the air; goggles or face shield; long-sleeved shirt; pants covering both legs above knee level; closed-toe shoes or booties made of leather/vinyl material

Use the same gloves for each client

  • Don't wash them in between clients, as this will make them more prone to tearing and snapping.
  • Don't share them with anyone else, even if they are also tattoo artists! They may have different hygiene standards than you do and could contaminate your equipment or yourself with bloodborne pathogens if they're not wearing their own sterile gloves (or don't know how).
  • Make sure that you use new, disposable gloves every time you start a new tattoo session--don't try to reuse these items again until they've been properly disinfected according to medical guidelines (see below). This will help prevent any bloodborne pathogens from being transferred from one person's skin onto another person's skin as well as reduce cross-contamination between different types of clients (tattoo artists should only tattoo other people).
  • Safely dispose of used personal protective equipment like face shields after each use by placing them into a container designated specifically for this purpose rather than throwing them away with regular garbage; using this method prevents others from accidentally coming into contact with potentially dangerous materials such as blood-stained cotton balls used during injections or discarded surgical gowns worn outside operating rooms where there is likely some degree of exposure risk involved due simply being near such environments regardless whether anyone actually touches anything directly themselves while walking through hallways etcetera since we all know already how easy viruses can spread just through touching surfaces without anyone needing come close enough touch anyone else directly themselves first before getting sick either way!).

Handle blood and body fluids safely

  • Do not share needles, ink, or other equipment.
  • Never use a needle more than once.
  • Never use a needle that has been dropped on the floor.
  • Never use a needle that has been used on someone else.
  • Always wear gloves when you are handling blood or body fluids from clients (even if they have only one tattoo).
  • Let the blood flow from an open wound before you touch it with a sterile gauze pad or cotton swab so you do not spread any pathogens from your hands to their open wounds; then dispose of all contaminated materials in accordance with local regulations.

Put the used skin prep solution

After tattooing a client, put the used skin prep solution and all instruments in a container marked "hazardous" and store them in a refrigerator. Don't reuse the skin prep solution or needles or other instruments. Use a different pair of gloves for each client, changing them if you touch anything else in the room (including another client's skin). Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your workroom with bandages for cuts or wounds on your hands so that you can cover them up during tattooing sessions if necessary.

Follow these safety measures 

  • Gloves are an essential part of your tattoo artist's kit. Always wear gloves when you are preparing the skin for a tattoo and during the actual procedure, as well as when you remove them.
  • After each client, put their used skin prep solution in a container marked "hazardous" and store it in a refrigerator until disposal (this prevents any cross-contamination). Remove all instruments from use by placing them into another container that is also marked "hazardous" and storing them in yet another fridge until they can be properly disposed of at home or work.
  • Clean hands thoroughly before beginning each session; change gloves after removing your current pair; keep clients' tattoos covered for 12 hours or more after getting pierced so that no more blood gets into their wounds; wash all contaminated surfaces with a 10% bleach solution daily and as needed


As a tattoo artist, it is your responsibility to take every measure possible to protect your clients from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. A simple slip-up could lead to serious illness or even death. If you follow these tips, you can help ensure that everyone stays healthy while getting inked!


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