Body Art Regulations

Can a minor get a tattoo?

Minors may not receive a tattoo or permanent makeup (cosmetic tattoo) according to Provincetown Board of Health Regulation Part IV, Article 7 – Body Art Regulations. There are a few exceptions to this policy, as outlined in Policy Statement: Tattooing of Minors in Special Circumstances (PDF).

A minor is defined as a person under the age of 18 (Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 7, §48). All persons under the age of 18, whether a resident of Massachusetts or of another locality, are defined as minors.

Can a minor be pierced?

The Provincetown Board of Health Regulation Part IV, Article 7 – Body Art Regulations (PDF) states which types of piercings can be done on minors with the consent of a parent who is present at the time of piercing.

Section 7.6 of the regulation states:

  • No minor client may be pierced without the written consent of his/her parent or legal guardian.
  • No Minor Client shall have his or her genitalia or nipples pierced.
  • No Minor Client under 14 years of age shall have his or her naval or oral areas pierced. Additionally, each body art studio may have its own policies regarding the age at which they will perform piercing.

Why are piercing guns no longer allowed in Provincetown?

Ear piercing guns are prohibited because the guns cannot be sterilized, and because the establishments that used ear piercing guns did not have ultrasonic machines and autoclaves to sterilize jewelry that is used in piercing.

Further, evidence suggests that ear piercing guns are often used in unsafe ways. For example, medical literature has documented cases of outbreaks of Pseudomonas aeruginosa from ear piercing guns (Keene, Markum, & Samadpour, 2004). Other scientific studies suggest that ear piercing guns can cause blunt force trauma and cartilage fissures.

Who inspects the body art studios?

In Provincetown, body art studios are inspected and licensed yearly by the Health Department. In addition, the Health Department may conduct spot inspections or complaint investigations.

Additionally, all body art (piercing or tattooing) technicians are licensed by the Health Department yearly.

My piercing or tattoo is infected, what should I do?

The first thing you should do at the sign of a skin infection is visit your doctor. After seeing your doctor, please call the Health Department. It is important to let the Health Department know of complications or infections that arose from body art in case there is a problem with the sterilization process the body art establishment is using or a particular ink or diluent.

Are temporary tattoos regulated?

No. For more information on the safety of temporary tattoos or henna, see the FDA's website.