Background: tattooing and piercing are increasingly common, especially among youths. However, several health complications may be associated with these practices if basic hygiene rules are not respected. This multicenter study was aimed at exploring tattoo and piercing experiences reported by a large sample of Italian undergraduate students through a public health perspective. Methods: tattooed and/or pierced students attending 12 Italian universities were asked to complete a web-based questionnaire regarding their body art experience. Results: out of 1472 respondents, 833 (56.6%) were tattooed and 1009 (68.5%) were pierced. The greatest proportion of tattooed students (93.9%) got her/his first tattoo in a tattoo studio, while most of the pierced were serviced in a jewelry store (48.0%). The pierced ones were less informed on health issues related to the procedure (56.0% versus 77.8% of tattooed p < 0.001), and tattooists were reportedly more attentive to hygiene rules (instrument sterilization 91.5% versus 79.1% of piercers, p < 0.001; use of disposable gloves 98.2% versus 71% of piercers, p < 0.001). Conclusions: educational interventions for both professionals and communities are needed to improve the awareness and the control of health risks related to body art throughout the Italian territory.
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