Joe Parrish

Joe Parrish tattoos a client’s arm at BlackGate Studios, 336 St. Clair St., in this State Journal file photo.

Local tattoo artist Joe Parrish’s smile was a little larger than usual Tuesday after receiving news that the state dropped a proposal that would ban tattooing over scars.

As the owner of BlackGate Studios on St. Clair Street, he said the proposed regulation overstepped several boundaries for his customers and himself.

“A lot of clients want scars covered to help them feel better about what caused it or memories that go along with them,” he told The State Journal. “A huge part of tattooing isn’t just healing of the skin, but emotional healing as well.”

In April, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed a proposed amendment to update tattoo regulatory revisions, which hadn’t been addressed in 15 years. One intended change — tattooing over unhealthy skin, including recent or healing tissue — garnered more than 600 comments from the public.

Some states restrict artists from tattooing skin with a rash, evidence of an infection, open lesions and recent scar tissue. However, opponents of the state proposal say the measure failed to provided specifics or define the term “scarred skin.”

“There are many different examples of tattoos to cover scars such as self-harm scars, scars from accidents (and) birthing scars,” said Scotty Thompson, owner of Ambitious Ink on Louisville Road.

On Tuesday CHFS announced it did not have sufficient evidence to support the prohibition of artists tattooing scarred skin.

“Based on comments received, we elected to remove the language relating to scar tissue,” Dr. Jeff Howard, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Public Health, said. “We truly appreciate the valuable input from the public in the regulation review process.”

Parrish, for one, was relieved with the announcement.

“There wasn’t much research put into the idea of banning it or even what our process is to take care of those types of requests,” Parrish explained. “Hopefully it was a big learning experience on both ends so that any further changes that are considered will be more thorough and those who chimed in will continue to use their voice.”

While the scar tissue issue was dropped, five new rules were added, including one that requires a notarized statement of parental consent for a minor seeking a tattoo without a parent of legal guardian present.

Other regulations include the registration process for tattoo studios that increases fees to offset inspection costs and a requirement for artists to complete blood-borne pathogen training. Disinfectant and equipment sterilization procedures were also updated.

CHFS has filed the revised rules with the Legislative Research Commission and an amendment will be on the agenda of the Administrative Regulation Review subcommittee meeting in August.

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