Skin penetration

Skin penetration

The Public Health Act 1991 defines a skin penetration procedure as:

  • acupuncture
  • tattooing
  • ear piercing
  • hair removal
  • any other procedure (whether medical or not) that involves skin penetration.
    This includes body piercing, waxing, electrolysis, semi-permanent makeup and any beauty treatment which involves the deliberate penetration or removal of the skin                                    
  • any other procedure prescribed by the regulation.

Note: this does not include procedures performed in the practice of a registered medical practitioner.

The definition does not include hairdressers or barbers as their practices do not involve the deliberate penetration of the skin. They are required to follow infection control procedures when skin is accidentally cut or penetrated and to prevent the spread of skin infections such as tinea, herpes, staphylococcal, streptococcal and pseudomonal infections. 

If skin penetration procedures are not undertaken correctly they have the potential to transmit bacterial and fungal infections, as well as viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C. Infection control procedures must be implemented to protect the health of the client and the operator.                                                                                 

For further information on these infection control procedures refer to NSW Health's Skin Penetration Code of Best Practice, Skin Penetration Guidelines and the fact sheets below.

Infection control fact sheets

Acupuncture (pdf 51KB) | Basic Requirements for Premises (pdf 87KB) | Beauty Treatments (pdf 47KB) | Body Piercing (pdf 44KB) | Cosmetic Enhancement (pdf 43KB)  | Ear Piercing (pdf 44KB) | Electroloysis (pdf 41KB) | Hairdressing (pdf 47KB) | Skin Penetration (pdf 43KB) | Tattooing (pdf 123KB).

Registration and inspection

It is a legislative requirement that prior to opening, all skin penetration premises must be registered with the local council. Should you wish to open a new premises you must submit a development application to council (refer to the Building and Development section).

See Public Health Registration form (pdf 481KB).

Skin penetration premises, as well as beauty salons and hairdressers, are inspected annually to ensure they comply with infection control requirements and basic health and hygiene. These inspections are charged for as per the Local Government Act 1993 and Council's current Schedule of Fees and Charges (pdf 227KB).

Related sites

New South Wales Health  

WorkCover NSW 

Public Health Act and Regulations