'Stick & Poke' Tattoos: Why to Steer Clear of This Trend

tattooed hand

Stick and poke tattoos -- also known as jailhouse tattoos -- are nothing new. (Heck, bored art students have been doing them for years.) But now they're apparently THE latest fashion must-have. So should you ink yourself? Or let your teen?


If you're not up to speed with what a stick and poke is, let us clue you in. You get a sterile needle, wrap it to make an ink reservoir, and poke a pattern of your choice into your skin. It's permanent like a tat you'd get professionally done. But it's cool because, you know, DIY.

(Plus, it's cheaper that what you'd be charged in a tattoo parlor. You can buy a stick and poke kit online for just $42.)

The down side? You may pay when it comes to your health.

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"Would you want someone to do skin surgery on you at home?" asks Dr. Delphine Lee, a dermatologist at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. "That's basically what you're doing. You're breaking the skin with something sharp."

And each time you do, Lee says, "You risk developing a viral or bacterial infection."

Warts are one possibility -- definitely not fashionable to have. Molloscum contagiosum -- think raised, red bumps that look like a witch's skin tags -- are another.

Oh, and if the needles you're using are NOT medical grade, sterile products, "that's a concern, too," Lee says.

Plus, these homespun tats are PERMANENT. Spelling errors, shaky lines, and bad pics won't wash off.

Bottom line: if you really (really!) want a tattoo, dishing out more cash to have a pro do it is probs the best way to go.


Would YOU try a stick and poke tattoo?


Image © iStock.com/paulaphoto

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