Archived photo of Tattoo Charlie’s | Courtesy of Tattoo Charlie’s

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services responded Friday to concerns about a contentious tattoo proposal by pledging to “address the language.”

The cabinet said its Department for Public Health will address the proposal — which calls for prohibiting the practice of tattooing over scarred skin — after a public comment period ends May 31.

The proposal is part of a broader effort to amend the tattoo regulation 902 KAR 45:065 to address changes in the tattoo industry in more than a decade.

“The regulation is still open for public comment and is subject to change,” according to Friday’s news release, which also stressed that the public’s concerns are being heard.

Tattoo artists have complained to WLKY and other news outlets about the proposal, noting that it’s common for people to ask for them to cover up scars that are either self-inflicted or the result of surgery or other circumstances.

In recent weeks, the cabinet has been vague about the reason for the proposed change – simply noting that the overall state regulations on tattooing hadn’t been changed in 15 years.

But Friday it clarified that “one intended change was to address potential health issues of tattooing over unhealthy skin, including recent or healing scar tissue. Because of such potential risks, some states currently restrict tattooing of skin that has a rash, evidence of an infection, open lesions, or recent scar tissue.”

Still, the language in the proposed regulation had some unintended consequences, according to the release, so it will be addressed.

“The process requires the Cabinet to propose a regulation and then take comments from the public to make sure that the final product does what is best for everyone,” Public Health Commissioner Jeff Howard said in the release. “We are glad to have the public’s input and we believe the final regulation will be improved by the comments we have received.”

A public hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 28, in Frankfort at the cabinet, 275 E. Main St.


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Darla Carter
Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.