It can be tempting to allow others, especially those that you may trust, to tattoo you. However, the danger associated with allowing yourself to be inked by an unlicensed artist higlights the severity of amateur tattooing.

Between 2004 - 2005, a potentially deadly, drug-resistant type of staph infectionstaph infection was reported among unlicensed tattoo artists in at least three states.

A report from the CDC shows that the antibiotic-resistant superbug known as MRSAMRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) had been found in 44 people associated with illegal tattoos from 13 unlicensed tattoo artists in Ohio, Kentucky, and Vermont.

In these cases, CDC officials say the infections were caused by the unlicensed tattoo artist failing to use gloves; masks; sterilized needles; or single-use equipment, including needles, tattoo guns, and ink supplies.

Tattoo MRSA Infection

(Tattoo MRSA Infection)

In light of these outbreaks, CDC officials say people considering a tattoo should be aware of the potential risk of drug-resistant MRSA infection associated with unlicensed tattoo artists. They recommend using a licensed artist who follows proper infection-control procedures.

Most MRSA skin infections are mild, but they can develop into more invasive problems such as pneumoniapneumonia or necrotizing fasciitis (the so-called flesh-eating disease). Three of the unlicensed tattoo artists involved in MRSA outbreaks in Ohio had recently been incarcerated, but it’s unclear if this was the source of the infection.