Public Health Wales is working with Carmarthenshire County Council and partner organisations in the Carmarthenshire area to investigate a small number of public health incidents arising from ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) self-tattoos and piercings.
Dr Rachel Andrew, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at Public Health Wales and Chair of the Incident Management team, said: “I would like to warn young people in the Carmarthenshire area to be aware of the infection risk that DIY self-tattoo and piercing kits such as ‘Stick and Poke’ present to their health.
“The availability of self-tattoo and piercing kits online, and an emerging trend of DIY videos on the social media network TikTok as well as YouTube, has resulted in a number of public health incidents involving young people in Carmarthenshire in recent weeks.
“Any tattooing or piercing can carry some risk of harm, including infection of the skin and infection with blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
“These health risks escalate significantly when unlicensed or DIY self-tattooing and piercing takes place, and when good hygiene practices – such as not sharing needles and equipment that are contaminated with body fluids – are not followed.
“We want to help young people to make an informed choice about tattooing and piercing, and to understand the risk they face of picking up an unwanted and serious infection as a result.
“The NHS isn’t here to judge, only to protect. I would strongly advise any young person that has had a DIY self-tattoo or piercing – whether using a kit or not – to come forward and seek medical advice and treatment from their usual Health Care provider.
“To parents of young people and young people themselves who may have been involved in any of these incidents, we ask them to contact their usual Health Care provider so that they can seek medical advice and treatment including vaccination against infection and a blood test.
“I also want to remind all young people that tattooing someone who is under the age of 18 is illegal in Wales, even with the consent of a parent or guardian.”
Cllr Philip Hughes, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Public Protection, said: “Our Environmental Health and Education officers are working closely with Public Health Wales to identify any further individuals that may have been involved in the incidents we are aware of, so that they may be contacted and advised to seek medical treatment. We will not be releasing any further detail on individual cases or providing information that may potentially identify individuals.
“Our Environmental Health team carefully regulates licensing of approved premises to ensure that activities are being carried out legally and safely. We’d like to remind people that it is illegal to tattoo anyone aged under 18. If people aged 18 and over want a tattoo or piercing, we urge them to do so safely and visit a professional and licensed establishment.”