Cabinet of Health and Family Services removes tattoo scar ban from regulations

Posted at 11:18 AM, Jul 16, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has filed an updated proposed administrative regulation, removing the tattoo scar ban that was met with some controversy.

Tattoo artists told LEX 18 back in April that the original proposed regulation prohibiting the tattooing of scarred skin would have been troubling for cancer survivors and others who use tattoos to cover scars.

“I work with trauma victims of all types,” Louisville tattoo artist Louise Kleinert told LEX 18. "I’ve seen a lot of burned victims who have lost their eyebrows or eyelashes due to other trauma. I could talk about this for hours. That covers concealment, meaning skin toned like colors to camouflage a scar, or to recreate a nipple for breast cancer survivors who lost their natural born nipple."

After the public outcry, the Cabinet chose not to move forward with the portion of the proposal that prohibited tattooing over scarred tissue.

The intent of the language prohibiting the tattooing of skin that is scarred should have been to prohibit the tattooing of freshly scarred skin. However, that part was left out of the filed version of this administrative regulation. The Cabinet agrees there is a lack of available evidence to support this prohibition.

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

Under the new rules, a person registering as a tattoo artist will have to complete a blood-borne pathogen training. The Cabinet has also updated the disinfectant and equipment sterilization process.

The registration process for a tattoo studio is outlined in the regulation, with increased fees to offset the inspection cost.

Below is a summary of changes found in the “Amended After Comments” version of the regulation:

  • Removes the prohibition against tattooing over scarred skin
  • Updates definitions for autoclave, disinfectant, hand-washing and sterilization
  • Specifies that a studio using all disposable products is exempt from the clean room and autoclave requirements
  • Updates the record keeping procedures to allow for more modern procedures
  • Revises the requirements for a temporary event license and workstation size.

The Cabinet has filed the updated regulation with the Legislative Research Commission. The amendment will be on the agenda at the Administrative Regulation Review subcommittee meeting in August.