Are absorbent pads suitable alternatives for tattoo dressing?


  • Yeang-Bin Pan Author
  • BCIT School of Health Sciences, Environmental Health Institution
  • Helen Heacock Supervisor
  • Fred Shaw Contributor



Absorbent pads, Meat pads, Tattoo, Dressing, Wound dressing, Sterile dressing



Background: Tattoo is a form of body modification that involves injecting ink underneath the epidermis using a needle. According to BC’s Guidelines for Personal Services Establishments this kind of invasive procedure will require wound dressing but the kind and sterility of the wound dressing has not been specified. During a tattoo convention an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) noticed that some tattoo artists were using absorbent pads for wound dressing. Absorbent pads are not sterile; therefore there is a concern of microbial infections at the tattoo wounds. This study examined the viability of using absorbent pads, which are non-sterile, as tattoo wound dressings. Method: 3M Quick Swabs were used to swab absorbent pads to collect the microorganisms present on the surface. 3M Petrifilm E. coli/Coliform Count Plates were used to culture E. coli and Coliform which could be present on the SanidermTM sterile tattoo dressing and absorbent pads. The presence of E. coli colonies on the petrifilm would show up as blue dots, while coliform colonies would be red dots. The total colony forming units (CFU), which include both E. coli and coliform colonies, were counted to assess the general sanitation conditions of both types of dressing. Results: Zero CFU were found from sampling the SanidermTM dressings and absorbent pads purchased from tattoo supply shops within Metro Vancouver. Conclusions: In the field of Environmental Health, coliform is often used as an indicator for the degree of sanitary quality; while E. coli is used as an indicator for fecal contamination. Therefore, the results of this study, indicated that the absorbent pads have high degree sanitation and are free from fecal contamination.



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How to Cite

Pan, Y.-B., BCIT School of Health Sciences, Environmental Health, Heacock, H., & Shaw, F. (2017). Are absorbent pads suitable alternatives for tattoo dressing?. BCIT Environmental Public Health Journal.