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3.8.2 Hair and Skin Care, Body Piercing and Tattoos


This procedure applies to children placed in children's homes and foster homes managed by the authority, but the principles apply to the placement of all looked after children. Therefore, where children in care are placed with parents, relatives or friends or in placements not managed by the authority, the social worker must ensure these or other adequate procedures are applied.


  1. General Principles
  2. Body Piercing, Tattoos etc.

1. General Principles

Each child's Placement Information Record should show how their hair and skin care needs are being addressed; with a view to encouraging and supporting them to adopt a positive and healthy lifestyle.

In the absence of such a plan, the following must be adhered to:

  1. Hair and skin care products and services may only be obtained from reputable, professional and suitably qualified providers.
  2. Where children have special needs or there are health care concerns regarding their hair or skin, specialist or professional advice must be sought and recommended treatment provided.
  3. Children must be provided with combs, brushes, oils, shampoos, creams and other hair or skin care products suitable to their needs, age and understanding.
  4. Children's daily routine should include opportunities, with support if necessary, to cleanse themselves and brush and/or comb their hair.
  5. Children's hair must be cut and styled by reputable hairdressers or stylists.
  6. Where a child requests, or it seems appropriate for a child to have a hairstyle or skin care product that may significantly change his or her appearance, the child's social worker should be consulted before a decision is taken.
  7. If possible, children should be offered counselling and support on the underlying issues and education about the health risks of such products.
  8. Children who need or choose to shave or remove facial or other body hair should be supported to do so and given allowances for the purchase of suitable oils, creams or shaving materials.

2. Body Piercing, Tattoos etc.

It is acknowledged that body piercing and tattoos are forms of self-expression and fashion, and that many children will experiment with them.

Children who express an interest in body piercing or tattoos should be treated on a case by case basis depending on their age and level of understanding, but on principle, residential staff/foster carers should discourage them, pointing out the possible implications and health care risks; for example, from unsafe materials, needles etc.

Under no circumstances may foster carers or residential staff encourage or give consent for children to have their bodies pierced or tattooed.

Children should be informed that it is illegal for tattooists to tattoo them, even with parental consent. If they appear determined, consideration should be given to making the tattooist aware of the age of the child. If children are likely to use materials to tattoo themselves, consideration should be given to confiscating them.

If children appear determined to have their bodies pierced, they should be asked to discuss the matter with their parent(s) and social worker beforehand.

If they continue to be determined, staff/carers should ensure that measures used for piercing are as safe and hygienic as possible; preferably undertaken by a reputable person.

Piercings may not be undertaken or in any way supported by staff/carers.

If necessary, staff/carers must confiscate any materials or equipment that may be used for it.

If a child does allow their body to be pierced or tattooed, the social worker must be informed and asked to decide whether to notify the parents.

Occurrences should be noted in the child's Daily Record.