Healthy living

What you need to know about body art

Your body art will only be as good as the artist you go to, and how well you care for it while it heals. This is important as body art creates an open wound that is prone to infection.

If your body art is not done hygienically, by a professional artist, you could suffer nerve damage, scarring or infections. Find out more about the potential risks of body art.

Be sure to choose someone who has extensive experience working in the body art industry.

We strongly recommend that any type of body art is performed by reputable and professional artists working in established studios with high standards of infection control. Don’t be afraid to ask about their methods of infection control.

Age of consent

Under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (external site) it is illegal to:

  • tattoo or brand a person under 18 without written consent of the parent or legal guardian
  • carry out intimate body piercing (nipples, genitals or anal area) on a person under 18 even if you have parental or legal guardian consent
  • carry out non-intimate body piercing (such as belly button) on a person under 18 without written parental or legal guardian consent
  • pierce the ears of a person under 16 without parental or legal guardian consent.

An operator can face imprisonment or be fined for illegally branding, tattooing or piercing a person under the legal age.

More information


  • Think carefully before getting a tattoo or piercing – your body art will only be as good as the artist you choose.
  • You must be over 18 to get a tattoo or intimate body piercing.

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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