Can a Neonatal Nurse have tattoos?

The nursing profession has been changing a lot in the last decades. According to a study conducted in 2020. About 44% of American citizens, possess some kind of tattoo. This is largely due to the fact that the current generation are the young people who had already started wearing them.

Based on that, the use of tattoos is not as stigmatized today as it was in past generations. Can a neonatal nurse have tattoos? The answer is absolutely yes, but you have to take a few things into consideration. You are always going to see resistance in some institutions to their use.

Older medical personnel are always going to prefer neonatal nurses who have clean skin without tattoos. But let’s see where this stigma comes from.

The Negative Stigma of Tattoos and Nurses

The use of tattoos by medical personnel has long been frowned upon, maintaining a negative stigma about those who wear them. On the basis of two main arguments, they support the rejection of tattoos that are visible on these personnel:

Associated with criminal activity

Tattoos in the past were always associated with criminal activity. At first they were used by criminals, to show their gang membership. They were also used by people who had been in prison or had a criminal record. The fact of having a visible tattoo was a reason for social rejection.

It is for this reason that older or traditional people still associate people with tattoos with rebellious, conflictive or antisocial tendencies.

Appears unprofessional and unhygienic

Some people tend to see it as something not very serious that a medical professional, such as doctors and nurses, use tattoos. They tend to see it as not very clean and unhygienic. In the work field, there are many people who claim that they are not professional at all.

Although this is a belief of more conservative and less flexible times, there are many corporations and institutions that prefer not to have staff wearing them. Having a nurse or doctor wearing tattoos can look unprofessional and negatively affect the image seen by patients.

Can nurses have tattoos on their bodies according to Nursing authorities?

There is currently no rule, regulation or law in the United States that prohibits the use of tattoos by neonatal nurses or any other type of nursing professional.

The National Student Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association do not have an official rule or recommendation either. However, although nursing authorities have not issued an official statement on the matter, some institutions have their own policies on the use of tattoos by nurses.

Nursing schools, hospice facilities, hospitals, home care facilities and clinics have varying degrees of restrictions on tattoos. Overwhelmingly, these policies leave some leeway for the use of tattoos by nurses.

Here are some of the most common policies in place:

  • Certain institutions require nurses to cover tattoos while they are wearing their nursing uniforms, either with long sleeves or bandages.
  • In some facilities only large tattoos are required to be covered, and smaller, more delicate tattoos may be left visible.
  • Some other facilities are more flexible with tattoos, allowing them to be worn with the exception that none are on the face, above the neck or below the forearms.
  • There are other facilities that prohibit the wearing of tattoos of any kind.

Whether there are universal rules for the use of tattoos

It is a universal rule to prohibit tattoos depicting graphic images, gang affiliation, nudity, offensive and political elements. Obviously, all institutions are going to require that inappropriate tattoos be covered at all times, or even not hire staff with such tattoos.

Nurses have the most contact with patients and their families, so the impression they leave is very important. For the credibility of the hospital, the image of the nursing staff is important, since nurses are the ones who reflect the institution as a whole to the patient and their families.

This conception goes some way to explain why some facilities prohibit tattoos, in this case on neonatal nurses. Institutions want nurses to appear clean of tattoos while working. Today that is still a very controversial issue in many professions, in many workplaces.

Although this is now considered an outdated and obsolete idea, many healthcare institutions claim that patients are more likely to trust nurses who are not tattooed.

But many studies show that rather than worrying about the appearance of their caregivers, patients’ biggest concern is the quality of care they receive.


Although there is no regulation or standard prohibiting the use of tattoos by neonatal nurses, there are still many institutions that adhere to classical and traditional standards. As such, nurses are going to encounter many institutions that have established their own policies for the use of tattoos.

Many of the tattoo restrictions imposed in healthcare facilities are based on the premise of minimizing all potential sources of bacterial growth. However, beyond these premises, there is a classic resistance to the use of tattoos that stems from social prejudice towards the tattooed person.

Marlene J. Shockley

My name is Marlene J. Shockley, and I am a Registered Nurse (RN). I have always been interested in helping people and Nursing seemed like the perfect career for me. After completing my Nursing Degree, I worked in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and home health care. I have also had the opportunity to work as a Travelling Nurse, which has allowed me to see different parts of the country and meet new people. No matter where I am working, I enjoy getting to know my patients and their families and helping them through whatever medical challenges they may be facing.