Island Teen Risks Complications to Ink her Own Body


Mike Young, the owner and artist at Eternal Dragon Tattoo, poses with his tattoo sketches. Beth Atkinson photo

By Beth Atkinson

Oct. 3, 2018

Noah Jory knew there were risks involved if she tattooed herself at home.

The White Sands teen began tattooing herself at 17 to express herself. She knew safety had to be a priority, she said.

“There are so many things that could go wrong.”

Jory spent $250 on her first tattoo inked by a Montague artist. The pain felt like cat scratches, she said.

“For the most part, it didn’t feel bad.”

Knowing she wanted more, Jory ordered her own tattoo machine, ink and needles off Amazon.

Jory was right to be concerned about safety.

Unreliable sellers and an unclean workspace can lead to harmful bacteria.

Mike Young of Eternal Dragon Tattoo makes sure his tattoo shop stays up to code with Health P.E.I. guidelines.

Everything has to be kept really clean, said the tattoo artist and owner.

“What that does is prevent things like cross contamination.”

Jory sterilizes her equipment and hasn’t had any complications.

“When you do anything with needles, you have to make sure they’re clean.”

This is where she thinks some at-home artists falter. They might not clean their equipment as often as they should, she said.

“They might think ‘it’s fine, it’s been on my skin before’ but that’s not OK.”

A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology stressed those dangers. Michi Shinohara is an assistant professor of dermotology and science at the University of Washington. She raised her concerns in a study, the Complications of Decorative Tattoos.

The rate of complications has been estimated as high as two per cent, said Shinohara.

“The total number is sure to increase as more of the population gets tattooed.”

Jory has seen the warnings, but she chose to tattoo anyway.

Disinfecting everything is important, but so is the type of ink, said Jory.

“Some people’s skin takes it differently than others.”

That’s why she uses organic ink. Other inks have some bad risk factors with the chemicals they put in them, she said.

“With organic ink, you know its chances of harming you are much less.”

Shinohara couldn’t find any evidence to support the ink being the reason for any complications. The possibility of tumors is just as likely as lesions with no connection to the ink used, she said in her study.

“Although questions exist about the safety of tattoo inks, the fact remains that the incidence of malignancies occurring within tattoos doesn’t appear to be more than one would expect for coincident lesions.”

Jory isn’t worried about infections. The one thing she didn’t realize was how much more painful it would be to tattoo herself.

“I had never felt pain like that.”

She began with two little hearts on the side of her wrist, a place she hadn’t known at the time was one of the most painful, she said.

“It was nerve-wracking because the entire time I was thinking ‘I’m going to have this on my body my entire life.’”

Now, she’s glad she got through the pain.

“When I can accomplish it, I can say ‘I did this, I went through all of it.”


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