Why is tattooing and piercing a risk?

It seems that when tattooing or piercing skin, endocarditis can be triggered by the normal bacteria on our skin entering our blood stream, also with a piercing bacteria can collect in large numbers around the jewellery, or by an infection of the tattoo or piercing site that can cause certain bacteria to enter the blood.

If you have a heart condition and are desperate to have body art then it’s really important that you talk it over first with your cardiologist or cardiac specialist nurse.

What if I'm under 18 years old?

Whether you have a heart condition or not, other issues to consider are that it’s illegal for  tattooists to tattoo you if you under 18 years old, and if they are not fussed about checking that, then you have to wonder what the tattoo will be like and how bothered they are about other important issues of their work, like using clean equipment so that you aren’t at risk of getting a blood borne infection like Hepatitis B and C or HIV.  The techniques that tattoo artists and piercers use, and the standard of sterilising equipment can all vary, and there is always a risk of getting an infection from dirty equipment or because it is done in a non-sterile way.

In different UK countries there are different rules about what age you can have piercings at, with or without your parents’ consent, if you're under 16 or under 18, and it also changes depending on which part of your body you are having pierced. For example, under English law, those under the age of 16 years cannot have their genitalia pierced, as this is regarded as indecent assault to which the customer cannot legally consent. The same law applies to female breast piercing.