Safer tattoos

FRESNO, Calif.

Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have lots of them! David Beckham boldly flaunts his tattoos in an H&M commercial. And fan websites for celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Rihanna are totally devoted to the singers' tattoos and what they mean.

Big or small, tattoos are now mainstream, but recent outbreaks of tattoo-related infections are cause for concern.

Getting a tattoo does pose health risks. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a report on tattoo-related skin infections in several states caused by contaminated ink. And Consumer Reports' medical adviser says concerns go beyond skin infections.

In tattoo parlors that don't follow good infection prevention practices, there can be a risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis. But there are ways you can reduce your risks. First, keep a clear head and never drink before you ink. And avoid homemade tattoos.

Instead, find an experienced tattoo artist. Check that the artist uses individually packaged single-use kits with disposable needles and tubes and wears sterile, disposable gloves. Consumer Reports advises if you do see any sign of a rash or infection, consult a doctor.

And remember, tattoos aren't easily removed. You don't want to be stuck with something that's really ugly or down the line you're going to regret.

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