Tattoo’s and Piercings

Lots of people have got some sort of body art, tattoos and piercings in different parts of their bodies. You might think that body art is quite a new thing but it has been around for centuries – tattoos have even been found on the bodies of Egyptian mummies!

If you are thinking of having a tattoo or getting part of your body pierced you need to think carefully about what you are about to do. Body art can seem like a good idea at the time, but how will you feel about it in a couple of years or as you get older particularly if they are visible tattoos and piercings?

Piercings can be taken out and should heal over but they could leave you with a small scar. If you leave the piercing in for a long time you could be left with a permanent hole where the piercing has been.

Tattoos are permanent and are done by injecting ink into your skin. This can be a painful experience and you can’t get rid of it unless you have laser surgery which is very expensive. Remember – even if you have the treatment you could still be left with a mark where the tattoo was.

You need to be 100% sure that you definitely want a piercing or tattoo and that you will still want it when you are older. Also you need to think about how visible piercings and tattoos might look to your school teachers or prospective employers.

At what age can I get one?

You will need to be over 18 to have a tattoo. It is a criminal offence to perform tattoos on under 18s, even if you have your parents or carers permission, and no reputable tattooist will do a tattoo on a minor. It is not a criminal offence for someone under 18 to have a tattoo, the criminal offence is committed by the tattooist. Young people who report having had a tattoo under 18 years should be reassured that they are not liable for prosecution in relation to this.

What will it cost?

Tattoo costs vary depending on what you are having done. The price can be affected by what design, size and colours you are wanting. They can cost anything from £10 upwards.

Piercing prices can vary too depending on what you want to get pierced. Ear piercing can cost from £7 and the average body piercing costs around £25.

What should I look out for before I have it done? Where should I go?

You need to find a piercer or tattoo artist who has a good reputation – you might know somebody who has had some body art done before who can give you advice on where to go.

Visit their shop or studio and have a look around. If they are a good reliable artist they should be happy to discuss your requirements and talk you through everything which will happen. Make sure you are happy with what they tell you and that the place looks clean and hygienic.

What should happen when I have it done?

Tattoo artists and piercers must use a brand new sterile needle for each customer. They should also have clean hands and wear disposable latex gloves to reduce the risk of getting an infection or worse still hepatitis, tetanus or HIV.

If you are not 100% sure that you want to have this done DON’T be scared of backing out – even if you already sat in the chair. You will be embarrassed and your friends might make fun of you for a short while but remember this could be something that you have for the rest of your life so you need to be sure!


You should always be given an aftercare guide and advice after you have had your body art done. If you don’t get one, ask. It’s best to avoid sunbathing, swimming and strenuous exercise until your body art has healed.

With piercings you should keep the area clean and wash it with a saline solution or antibacterial wash every day. They can take between four weeks and six months to heal – it all depends on what you have had pierced and how well you look after it.

When you have a tattoo the tattoo artist will put you a bandage on. You should keep this on for anything from 2 hours up to 12 hours. You should gently wash the area twice a day with antibacterial soap and pat dry. Use plenty of moisturiser and keep the area uncovered as much as possible.

Who can help?

The BBC Radio 1 website can give you lots of advice and information about body art and Tattoo’s.

Visit the NHS direct website to find out more information and advice about the health risks of piercings.

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