Burn Baby, Burn!

A young lady visiting from Ireland came in to receive her piercings before she returns to her homeland; expressing concerns about infections, we gave her a tour of the studio and explained our infection control routines

Roisin (pronounced “Rasheen”) received an extensive education about how Dragon Moon Tattoo Studio works and follows stringent infection control guidelines that we developed for the FDA in 1988 and update every year with training.  Here is what Roisin learned:

In Biblical times, the clothes and other belongings of lepers were burned because it was believed purification by fire was the only way to prevent contamination.  The use of heat to sterilize and disinfect is even more important in today’s world.  Other physical means have been developed to cleanse and sterilize as we grow in our knowledge of the unseen world around us; Dragon Moon wrote the Autoclave Log Book years ago for the body arts industry and is just as relevant now as basic procedures are required to maintain a safe environment for clients.  We keep our autoclave records in house for ten years!

The greatest potential danger in the studio environment is from contaminated needles and the recognized possibility of transmission of hepatitis B and other blood borne pathogens.  Hepatitis B is extremely stable and resistant to considerable heating, drying and most chemicals.For this reason alone, any items the come into contact with serum, blood or body fluids must be processed rigorously and carefully.  Hepatitis b can live outside the human body for up to 10 days so think about that when you are cleaning up after the tattoo or piercing procedure.

With the level of sterilization procedures available today there is no reason any infectious disease should be able to stand the chance of survival in the modern studio environment.  Thermal (heat) procedures are simple, reliable and relatively inexpensive in comparison to the cost of handling potential lawsuits as a result of disease transmission through improper handling of materials and equipment used in the tattoo or piercing process.  To achieve total sterilization, consider the four points of rule for the destruction of microorganisms, termed “thermal kill”:

  • thermal death point  — thermal death point is the temperature at which a suspension of organisms is sterilized after a 10 minute exposure
  • thermal death time  thermal death time is the length of time required for a particular temperature to sterilize a suspension of organisms
  • “D” value” — “D” value is the time required to kill 90% of the organisms in a suspension at a specified temperature
  • “Z” value” — “Z” value is the number of degrees of temperature needed to reduce the “D” value to one tenth of its original value

AUTOCLAVING is the best method since the proper use of the clave achieves all four points of thermal kill.  Moist heat kills by denaturing proteins, chief enzymes and cell membranes.  One of the theories also involves that the killing action of moist heat changes the physical state of lipids (fats).  This is supported by the observation that clostridium botulinum spores are more heat resistant.  Bacterial death by dry heat is caused by oxidation of the cell components.  Studies have shown that the drier the preparation, the greater the heat resistance.  If dried organisms are heated in a vacuum or under nitrogen, the killing effect is slower and the organisms are less likely to succumb to the death point.    Small tablets of Escherichia coli prepared by rapidly freezing and dehydrating cells in a vacuum have shown levels of resistance to dry heat close to those of spore-forming bacteria.  if, however, the E. coli are dropped into boiling water, they are rapidly killed.  This does not mean that boiling tattoo or piercing equipment in water achieves the thermal death point; the example is given to show why dry heat is inferior to steam sterilization methods.

The next time you consider getting a new tattoo or piercing, come and visit with us–experienced, educated professionals at your service!  Never, never, ever get a tattoo by someone tattooing out of their home-your health is the most important aspect of permanent art or piercing and if a person cannot show you their autoclaves and documentable methods of infection control, why risk it?  


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