A drive to get people to ‘Think twice, tattoo once’ has been launched this week at Selkirk High School by the council and NHS Borders.
While a special awareness-raising programme has been developed for high school pupils aged 14 to 16, the overall campaign is targeting residents of all ages.
Both organisations are encouraging anyone thinking of getting a tattoo to ensure they use a properly licensed tattooist who is regularly inspected by council officers.
Dr Eric Baijal, director of public health for the Borders, said: “Unlicensed tattooists and piercers who use unsafe and unhygienic practices can cause short and long-term health problems such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and skin infections that can cause scarring.
“Using a licensed tattooist will ensure clients get a safe, hygienic service and avoid what are, potentially, life-threatening health problems.
“Tattoos can sometimes be removed, but serious blood-borne infections such as HIV cannot,” he added.
The tattoo safety campaign will see posters, drinks coasters and leaflets distributed widely across the Borders.
The interactive programme developed for senior school pupils will educate students on the potential health risks and advise them that it is illegal to get a tattoo under the age of 18, even with parental consent.
The presentations and information on tattoo safety will be taken round local high schools as part of the Safe T roadshows, which help young people think about a range of issues, and their future as adults.
The joint campaign has also received the backing of the police.
Inspector John Scott, from Police Scotland’s Lothian and Scottish Borders division, explained: “Tattooists require special training and an appropriate licence, which ensures they meet all the necessary health and safety criteria and do not put the public at risk.
“It is illegal for any tattoo premises to operate without a licence and the public are urged to use recognised and reputable businesses if they are considering getting a tattoo.”
Inspector Scott added: “Using an unlicensed tattoo artist may have serious implications for your health.”