Cumberland Times-News

May 18, 2013

County plans to regulate piercings and change rules for tattoo parlors

Children would be able to get ink artwork with permission of parents

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — While Allegany County regulates tattoos, it does not currently regulate body piercings, but the county health department is planning to change that situation soon.

Legitimate tattoo and piercing shops are cooperating in the update, county health officials have said.

In fact, if adopted by county commissioners, the new rules will allow children to obtain tattoos with parental permission. That’s because some kids get tattoos from friends or illegitimate shops, and then parents hope to fix the tattoo by covering it with a professional ink design.

Local tattoo and piercing shops are on board with the updates. Brian Dicken of the Allegany County Health Department praised the cooperation of the local establishments. The last update for the regulations was in 1991, before piercings became common.

“These things are being done, but they are unregulated,” Dicken said. “We’re not changing the intent of the regulations,” Dicken said.

Health department officials looked to a national code to update the county code with the best possible information. Dicken said he intends to share the proposed regulations with the tattoo and piercing coommunity and then commissioners will open the process to public comment.

Often, licensed tattoo shops are called upon to fix shoddy or illegal work. That’s why the new regulations could allow for work on children, with parental permission. Parents may want a decent shop to fix poorly made tattoos. One way to do that is to cover a bad tattoo with a good one, Dicken said. The health department enforces tattooing and will enforce piercing regulation. However, the department has little ability to fight illegal or underground tattooing.

“We have to fix up the work all the time,” said Julie Fresh, the manager at Independent Ink in Frostburg. Fresh said she supports tighter enforcement of tattoo and piercing laws. “They just want everything clean, and that’s what we want, too,” Fresh said.

Dicken said other concerns in the new regulations include blood-borne pathogens and infections in general.

Before any new rules are adopted, county commissioners must hold a public hearing and vote on the changes.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at