by John Bradley of
Captain Jack's Tattoo
This tech tip on cross-contamination I think will be the most important tech tip that I will ever write, because cross-contamination is something that should not be overlooked and should be taken very serious by everyone involved in the tattoo and piercing industry. For those who don't already know, cross-contamination is the spread of micro-organisms from one surface to another or from something that is contaminated to something that is not. One of the biggest mistakes that I see when I visit a tattoo shop or when I'm at a convention is cross-contamination....now don't get me wrong, most tattoo shops do follow strict methods to prevent cross-contamination..but there are a few that need to clean up there act. All the sterilization in the world is not going to make a difference to your client or to you if things are getting cross-contaminated. Cross-contamination is a very serious and a very deadly situation. When I tattoo I treat the situation with what I call UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS. Universal precautions is a system that prevents the spread of infections from person to person. Simply put, it means that I treat all blood and other body fluids as potentially infectious. Treat every client as if they have every known disease to mankind. With this in mind you tend to take every precaution and you are much more aware of cross-contamination. Some of the ways that cross-contamination can occur is as follows:
* if strict attention to hand washing is not observed
* if clean instruments are placed on unclean surfaces
* if contaminated and clean instruments come into contact with one another
* if one or more tattooist use the same equipment or materials
Here are the most common observations that I have noticed:
1. answering the telephone with soiled gloves
2. adjusting overhead light with soiled gloves
3. adjusting power supply with soiled gloves
4. touching ink bottles or ink tray with soiled gloves
5. adjusting or handling furniture or equipment with soiled gloves
6. stuffing garbage into the garbage can without changing gloves
Simple things you can do to prevent cross-contamination. Preparation of the work area is the key. It is very important that you completely prepare your work area so as to avoid having to leave the work area in the middle of a tattoo to get something that may be needed. Interrupting your procedure increases the risk of cross-contaminating surfaces.
* place a container labeled "dirty instruments" in the work area for the collection of non-disposable instruments for sterilization.
* cover any work surfaces with disposable coverings.
* make sure all the items needed are in easy to reach places.
* ensure that the work area is clean and tidy and free from items and objects unrelated to the tattooing process. Before putting on your gloves, you should be sure to cover surfaces that may become contaminated, in the event that an item has to be handled or adjusted while tattooing.
1. place the required amount of single use, disposable ink cups into your stainless steel ink cup trays and dispense inks into cups
2. cover light fittings and power pack controls with cling film
3. cover spray bottles with single use plastic bags, so only the nozzles are exposed.
4. place water to be used for rinsing between colors in disposable cups and dispose of water and cups after each customer.
5. tissues or wipes to be used during tattoo procedures should be stored where they cannot become contaminated
6. clip cord should be covered with cling wrap.
7. tattoo machine should be covered with a single use plastic bag.
8. rubber bands on the tattoo machine should be changed after every tattoo.
9. a new disposable single use razor should be used on each customer then disposed of.
10. stencils should never be reused.
11. Acetate stencils should never be used since they cannot be effectively
12. remove petroleum jelly from container with a sterile tongue depressor. Never use your bare finger or gloves.
13. area of skin to be tattooed should be cleaned and disinfected
using one of the following:
a. 70% isopropyl alcohol
b. alcoholic (isopropyl and ethyl) formulations of 0.5-4% chlorhexidine
c. aqueous or alcoholic povidine-iodine (1% available iodine)
The time between skin disinfection and skin penetration should be at least 2 minutes...but preferable 5 minutes. Multiple-use deodorants should never be used prior to the placement of a stencil. Remember cross-contaminating is not only deadly to your client but also you and your family and the whole tattoo industry. So do the right thing and KEEP IT CLEAN! JOHN
P.S. if you use an ultra sonic cleaner before your sterilization, make sure that it has a top on it to prevent any microorganisms from becoming air borne and contaminating your shop.
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by John Bradley of Captain Jack's Tattoo
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