Have you noticed that there are a lot of people that have Tattoos these days? In the past you may have only seen tattoos on people such as sailors, outlaws, and biker gangs but now tattoos are a very popular body decoration for many people. The types and styles of tattoos has also come a very long way. It is no longer crude pictures of pinup girls, skulls, and anchors. Tattoos have developed into very sophisticated art work ranging from Celtic crosses to very personalized symbols. People have found and created designs that express themselves in a very personal way. What is a Tattoo? Very simply a tattoo is a puncture wound made in the skin that is filled with ink. Although done differently today than in the past the technique is still somewhat similar. Today, tattoo artist use a tattoo gun that has one or more needles that penetrate the skin and delivery ink into the skin. Tattoos last a very long time due to the fact that the ink is placed deeply into the skin. The top layer of skins is called the epidermis and it is constantly shedding and being reproduced. If the ink from a tattoo was in this layer of skin it would not last very long. The layer of skin that the ink is injected to is called the dermis, which is a deeper layer of skin that is very stable and makes the tattoo stay visible almost permanently. Tattoos in the past were done manually with a tool that they tapped on the skin to make the puncture wound and then the ink would be injected by hand. Most tattoo shops today have tattoo guns or machines to do this today, although you can still find areas around the world that still use the older style of tattooing. The tattoo guns make tattooing much more quickly today because the machine is able to deliver the ink into the skin as it is puncturing the skin. The tattoo artist can change the tip of the machine to contain one needle or group of needles depending on if they are drawing the outline of the design or shading part of the design. Most tattoo artist today are very skilled and know just how far to drive the needle into the skin to produce a good tattoo. Not going deep enough can result in ragged tattoo and going to deep can result in excessive bleeding, not to mention the pain would be much worse. Does It Hurt? Getting a tattoo can hurt and can take several hours or even days to complete depending on the size and design of the tattoo you are getting. The amount of pain can and will very depending on the location of the tattoo. Everyone has a different threshold to pain also. The art has a bit to do with it also. A good tattoo artist can provide less pain over a new or less experienced tattoo artist. So you want a Tattoo! First and foremost, if you are going to get a tattoo, get it done safely! Remember, a tattoo is a puncture wound that needs to be taken care of just like any other scrape or cut that you may get. By taking care of your tattoo you will be less likely to have it get infected. It may sound a little silly but you need to make sure that your immunizations are up to date. Tattoo shops today have implement steps to help you avoid infections and disease but it doesn't hurt to take an extra step for your own safety. Have a plan to get medical care if your tattoo does get infected. Some signs of infection are excessive redness, prolonged bleeding, pus or changes in your skin color around the tattoo. If you have a prior or existing condition such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes or a condition that effects your immune systems by all means consult with your doctor. He may be able to recommend precautions that you can take before getting your tattoo. Choosing the place to get your tattoo is very important. You want to be sure the tattoo shop is clean and safe. Things such as needles, gloves, mask should all be disposable and should never be used on more than one person. The guns themselves and other equipment that is not disposable should be sterilized after every use. You can contact your local government agencies(county, city, local health department) that can inform your on licensed tattoo shops, standards or complaints against a specific tattoo shop. Here are some things to look for: Does the tattoo shop you are looking at have an autoclave to sterilize equipment? An autoclave is a piece of equipment that uses steam, pressure and heat to sterilize with. Is the shop licensed? You can check this through you local government agency and the tattoo shop you are looking at should be able to provide you with references. Make sure the tattoo shop the regulations that outline procedures to be followed when dealing with bodily fluids that are provided by the Occupational Safely and Health Administration's Universal Procedures. Just keep in mind, if the tattoo shop you are considering looks dirty or just doesn't feel right to you for any reason it would probably be best to find a tattoo shop you are more comfortable with.