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Seen At 11: Health Professionals Warn Of Risks From 'DIY' Tattoo Kits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Statistics show one in five adults has a tattoo and now, more people are choosing to ink themselves or have someone else do it for them right at home.

But critics warn do-it-yourself tattoos are a risky trend.

"I think having the experience of having a tattoo at home is really awesome!" Robin Marquis said, who has a "DIY tattoo."

But awesome or not, as CBS2's Kristine Johnson reported, home can be a dangerous place to get one.

According to the National Tattoo Association, it's just not safe.

"Are they clean? Are they keeping things sterile?  Are they using the proper procedures? Are they using the proper ink?" Sailor Bill Johnson with the National Tattoo Association said.

DIY kit manufacturers say being 18 and over is a requirement for purchase, but it's impossible to see who is buying online.

Psychologist Barbara Greenberg says it is big concern.

"Parents should absolutely be worried about this 'do-it-yourself' movement because the conditions are probably very unsterile, you have kids sharing a needle," Greenberg said.

Young teens may be permanently disfiguring themselves and even more frightening, using improvised methods copied from the internet.

"YouTube videos are very concerning because they give the message that this is a safe activity but it's not," Greenberg said.

"You're breaching your skin, you're breaching a part of your immune system to apply this tattoo, so everything needs to be sterile," Dr. Amesh Adalja said, an infectious disease specialist.

Adalja warns there are risks involved with any tattoo.

"If the infection spreads systemically into the bloodstream it could become a life-threatening situation. It could also threaten the limb if the infection is very deep-seated in the soft tissue," he said.

"If you're not taught properly, you're not going to be doing proper work," Johnson said.

Nicole West, the maker of Stick and Poke Home Tattoo kits, says she includes materials to try to make sure home kits are safe.

"I decided to start making these kits because I know people who stick and poke using random objects around the house-- not necessarily the best thing for creating a tattoo," West said.

Even in professional environments it is illegal, even with parental consent, for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo in the tri-state area.

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