Steve Mullenix (R.Ph) is a pharmacist and co-owns The Pharmacy in Mount Olive with his wife, Sherry Mullenix (J.D., R.N.). They can be reached at (205) 631-1201.

Who would have thought that in 2007 we would be watching shows about getting tattoos?

TV shows like “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink” have a large viewership, and not just among sailors and bikers. Many respectable people in the community may have a tattoo that you don’t know about.

The practice of tattooing has surged in recent years. With many entertainers and sports figures bearing their body art, John and Jane Doe seem to find the practice a little more acceptable.

No longer are tattoos considered to be only for the “deviant” or outlaws of society. Your physician, dentist, bank teller or pharmacist may have been under the needle for a little body art.

Tattooing is a way an individual can express his individuality or uniqueness, and it won’t soon be going away soon. The practice of tattoos and permanent makeup has been practiced in most cultures for centuries, some for cosmetic or beautification purposes, and for others as a rite-of-passage for some event in the culture.

Men tend to get large tattoos, while women think of tattoos as mementos. Tattoos can be a result of peer pressure or the marking of a monumental event in one’s life such as a birth or death of a loved one. Whatever the reason, it is a very personal decision. It should not be taken lightly because of the longevity of the finished procedure.

Tattooing is really a series of puncture wounds that carry a dye into the different layers of the skin. Like any puncture wound, it carries the risk of minor skin infection or allergic reaction to the method or the dye.

Scarring can result which can become raised scar (keloid). A major life-threatening concern is the spread of blood born diseases like HIV, tetanus, and Hepatitis B and C. This can be minimized or eliminated by the selection of a reputable shop that uses proper sterile techniques.

While tattooing is on the rise, so is tattoo removal. In a recent survey, The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery found that laser tattoo removal procedures are up 17 percent between 2001 and 2005. Approximately 55,000 procedures were performed in 2005.

It’s important to understand that getting one removed is much more painful, difficult and expensive than getting the design. The little four-leaf clover on your ankle that cost $50 at the beach could cost up to $2,000 for removal.

If you do decide to “get inked” as it is known, there are several do’s and don’ts to consider.


• Choose a facility carefully: Make sure the establishment is reputable and licensed.

• Keep it simple: A small design with two-three colors is easier to conceal or remove later if you decide to.

• Choose an appropriate location: Are you sure that when you are 45 years old you’ll still want that skull with a pair of flaming dice for eyes on your forearm?

• Remember what’s hot today may not be tomorrow: Trends and fads change fast, so that tribal or flower tattoo may get a lot of compliments for a couple of years, but after that who knows?


• Make the decision to get a tattoo on impulse, or when you have been drinking: Most reputable shops will offer you some suggestions on location, size of the design and will not tattoo an individual under the influence or alcohol.

• Don’t self-tattoo: Let someone who knows what they are doing do it for you.

• Have the procedure in sanitary conditions: Make sure sterile equipment is being used — single-use needles, and all surfaces covered.

• Don’t let an infection go: Getting a tattoo causes a condition not unlike a wound and there is the chance of infection — if you experience considerable redness or soreness, see your physician.

If you do decided to “get inked,” put a lot of thought in the process. Do some research on the shop and don’t do it on impulse.

Remember it’s not something you can simply wash off when you get tired of it. For those who want the look and aren’t sure, there’s always the temporary Henna tattoos.

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you