Our lives would be simpler in the permanent cosmetic profession if our clients always knew their health status and passed along full information to their therapist. This is not the case. It is suspected that some people do not disclose their health conditions for fear that they may be considered ineligible for permanent cosmetic treatments. Others may have serious medical conditions that they are unaware of. Hepatitis infection can show only mild (or no) symptoms for years before diagnosis.
PMU Artists are on the front line of infection risk. As a result, all clients should be treated the same. Treat all clients as if they have a medical condition you could contract or pass along to other clients or your family and friends through cross-contamination. Over the span of a career a permanent cosmetic technician will have thousands of clients, each with the potential of transmitting undesirable and health affecting conditions if proper safety precautions are not taken.
It is the responsibility of each technician to be knowledgeable about Hepatitis in particular, due to the increasing number of the population that carry this virus, and it's potentially fatal effects.
Hepatitis is a major health concern throughout the world. Any person who provides a service to the public that can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens is required to know about Hepatitis, how the different forms are contracted, and how to prevent it’s transmission.
There are 3 known forms of Hepatitis that are transmitted by contact with blood or other body fluids (lymph, saliva etc), Hepatitis B, C and D. The most severe form, Hepatitis C (HCV), is a damaging and debilitating disease which is, in many cases, incurable. It’s the primary condition leading to liver transplants and will be the cause of death in half of the people that contract it. Yearly, Hepatitis C kills more people than any other infectious disease, more than HIV, Hepatitis B and Tuberculosis combined. Hepatitis C is difficult to detect and there is no vaccination. This is serious business.
Hepatitis B (HBV) was the first of the Hepatitis viruses to be diagnosed and described. It has a long incubation period from 6 weeks to 6 months. In some cases, it can be harboured for up to 15 years prior to showing symptoms. Usually manifesting as an acute (self limiting) condition it can also become a chronic (persistent) disease. Chronic conditions can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and Hepatitis D.
Historically, Hepatitis B has been a serious occupationally acquired infection among healthcare workers who have frequent exposure to blood and bodily fluids. Blood to blood transmission is the most common form of infection but transmission is also possible by means of environmental surfaces, known as indirect transfer. This means that the permanent cosmetic technician can contract HBV from a contaminated desk or from contaminated gloves. Under laboratory conditions, it has been shown that the virus can remain infectious in dried or liquid blood for several weeks. HBV infection is widespread, nearly 1 in 3 of the world's population will be infected at some point in their lives.
Every semi-permanent makeup artist should commit to a series of Hepatitis B vaccinations for their personal and client's protection. The EU recommend the following time scales;
2nd vaccination One month after 1st vaccination
3rd vaccination Two months after 1st vaccination
4th vaccination 12 months after 1st vaccination
Booster at 5 years after 1st vaccination.
Hepatitis D infections only occur in those individuals who have acute or chronic Hepatitis B infection and it is a potentially serious disease. Most cases appear in individuals who are exposed to blood.The most effective protection against contracting Hepatitis D is through immunisation against Hepatitis B.
There are many Pathogens and BBVs, other than Hepatitis, that we could potentially be exposed to in our work. The most effective means of protecting ourselves and those that we come into contact with is by effective and rigorous hygiene practices and wearing personal protection such as gloves, apron, mask and hair net. Either wear disposable sleeves or keep your forearms bare and wash frequently and thoroughly.
Disposable gloves are probably the most effective barrier against exposure to a Blood Borne Virus such as Hepatitis. Choose good quality gloves that fit comfortably and are not too tight, as stretched gloves are much more likely to split. Change your gloves often, thoroughly washing and drying your hands each time, taking care not to touch the outside surface of the gloves with your skin when removing them.
Here is some guidance from the Red Cross on how to remove gloves without coming into contact with the outer surface.
Although the dangers of infection seem severe, with proper control, the likelihood of being infected with a blood borne virus as a Microblading or PMU Artist is probably less than therapists carrying out some other treatments where there is a chance of coming into contact with small amounts of blood or lymph. Waxing, threading, hairdressing and manicure all have the possibility of accidentally drawing blood but without the precautions that we would take. If you assess the risks in your working environment and carry out effective hygiene and sterilisation procedures, you can keep yourself and those you come into contact with completely safe.
The Dermagraph Microblading Course has extensive tuition on best practice for SPMU Artists to ensure complete safety. Your trainer will be more than happy to advise on any aspects of infection control and hygiene relating to your treatment room or salon. You can also find further information and advice from the HSE, your public health authority or your local licensing dept. Another useful resource is the Tattooing and Body Piercing Guidance Toolkit available for free download from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.