Can Nurses Have Tattoos or Piercings?

Whether nurses can have tattoos or piercings in nursing school or professional settings depends on the organization’s policies.

Most nurses can have tattoos if they fall within the guidelines of nursing schools or healthcare facilities.

That said, tattoo policies vary from one healthcare center to the next.

As a result, it’s vital to identify the school, company, and organization’s policies to ensure the tattoos are appropriate.

Restrictions for piercings may be more stringent.

Piercing policies depend mainly on the number of piercings and their placements, but I’ll discuss this later.

As tattoos grow in popularity, healthcare centers change policies and provide more flexibility for those with tattoos.

Accordingly, it allows more nurses and healthcare professionals to display various tattoos in the workplace.

It also means healthcare facilities can hire a wide range of qualified individuals for needed positions.

What Tattoos are Considered Work Appropriate

Nowadays, numerous facilities allow nurses to display their tattoos reasonably freely.

It includes nurses with wrist tattoos, full-sleeved tattoos, and even neck tattoos.

Conversely, more conservative facilities may only consider small tattoos (ex. 2″ – 3″) acceptable.

Tattoo placement may also be a factor among conservative healthcare centers regarding what is appropriate.

Some facilities require nurses to cover or remove face and chest tattoos.

It isn’t all facilities, but it’s essential to understand the guidelines to ensure nurses follow them appropriately.

If the tattoo doesn’t fit within guidelines, most nurses must keep them hidden while attending work or college.

Healthcare facilities may also restrict potentially offensive tattoos.

As a result, some nurses may only show non-offensive symbols (non-sexual, non-racial, non-morbid, and non-political).

Facilities with strict policies may require nurses to cover up even the most negligible and least noticeable body art.

It includes tattoos such as a small heart or name on the arm or wrist.

In rare cases, it may be due to strict uniform policies that require all nurses to have a matching appearance.

However, it isn’t typical of most healthcare facilities as long as the tattoo respects the company’s policies.

Advice for Nurses Getting Tattoos

Before getting a tattoo, nurses should determine the healthcare facility’s dress code policies.

Even though many facilities are more relaxed regarding tattoos, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t violate policy guidelines.

The policy guidelines include clothing, acceptable hairstyles (i.e., tying up or covering long hair), piercings, and tattoo designs.

Lastly, determine the appropriate method to hide the tattoos effectively if the facility doesn’t consider them acceptable.

What About Piercings?

The short answer as to whether nurses can have face and body piercings is that it depends.

In many cases, nurses can have piercings as long as they are work-appropriate.

First and foremost, it matters what types of piercings a nurse has and where the body piercings are.

A nurse’s setting also influences piercings that are/aren’t allowed.

For instance, intensive care units, emergency rooms, or high-risk settings may place tighter restrictions on the types of piercings nurses can have.

In these situations, nurses may be limited to small ear piercings or be required to remove piercings during work hours.

Conversely, nurses in low-risk, low-infectious settings may have more lenient policies regarding piercings.

The most often acceptable type of piercing for nurses is ear piercings.

These are usually the least intrusive and have a low likelihood of getting snagged or causing an infection.

With that said, some facilities may allow nurses to wear small nose piercings in low-risk settings.

However, specific environments may prohibit large piercings such as nose rings.

As with tattoos, what’s considered an acceptable piercing varies from one healthcare center to the next.

Healthcare facilities may also restrict piercings because of the risk of infection from germs, bacteria, and viruses.

Lastly, large piercings may create a physical hazard or increase the injury risk of the healthcare provider.

Ultimately this can cause some facilities to restrict certain piercings for safety reasons.

Types of Body Piercings May Include:

  • Ear piercings
  • Nose piercings
  • Face piercings
  • Tongue rings
  • Pierced jewelry

Factors Concerning Acceptable Tattoos

The following section covers the most common factors that affect what a healthcare center considers acceptable.

In short, it includes designs and placements for nurses interested in getting a tattoo.

As previously stated, these policies vary from one healthcare center to the next.

Consequently, there are no central guidelines for all healthcare facilities, organizations, and communities.

Employer Policies and Dress Codes

There are several considerations nurses may face regarding visible tattoos/body art in specific healthcare settings.

Some healthcare facilities have shown flexibility allowing nurses to have full sleeves and even neck tattoos.

Conversely, others provide much stricter tattoo regulation guidelines.

Depending on the organization, hospital, or healthcare facility, nurses may be required to hide specific tattoos.

In this case, nurses use long-sleeved shirts, turtlenecks, long scrubs, makeup, and band-aids to cover up tattoos.

However, in certain instances, nurses may have challenges with hiding large and apparent tattoos.

For instance, nurses with neck or facial tattoos may have difficulty keeping them hidden in the workplace.

As a result, it can impact getting hired at facilities that do not allow these tattoos. With that said, band-aids, turtlenecks, and long hair may help.

Common Techniques Nurses Use to Conceal Tattoos:

  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Turtlenecks
  • Dress appropriate scrubs
  • Makeup
  • Band aides
  • Hair coverage techniques

Most healthcare facilities require nurses to maintain a professional appearance.

It means wearing professional attire and keeping certain tattoos and piercings hidden from patients and coworkers.

Nevertheless, healthcare facilities ‘ dress code policies may vary from one facility to another.

Some locations allow tattoos or piercings to be visible, assuming they are not offensive and not in violation of safety guidelines.

Concerning piercings, their restrictions may be more stringent because they can be a health concern in certain facilities.

It’s especially true where germs, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms can spread.

Ear piercings may be one of the more acceptable kinds of piercings.

However, the size and number of piercings may be a factor in determining what’s acceptable.

Institutional Policies Can Change Over Time

Although a healthcare center may not allow certain tattoos to be displayed, it is essential to point out that hospitals and healthcare facilities continuously adapt to modern times.

Many facilities have changed their policies to allow more flexibility in scrub uniforms and tattoos.

Just because one facility doesn’t allow certain tattoos doesn’t mean other healthcare facilities have the same policies.

Separate locations may be much more flexible with what they consider workplace-appropriate tattoos.

Tattoos That May Not Be Acceptable:

  • Large and exposed tattoos
  • Certain face tattoos
  • Certain hand-neck tattoos
  • Tattoos placed in inappropriate locations
  • Offensive tattoo designs
  • Certain religious symbols
  • Offensive language
  • Racially offensive tattoos
  • Political tattoos or sexual content

Some tattoos, including hand, neck, and arm, are perfectly acceptable in some settings.

Therefore, the previously mentioned section doesn’t apply to all circumstances.


Healthcare facilities may allow nurses to maintain visible tattoos and piercings under the right circumstances.

Some nurses have dozens of tattoos without violating dress code policies.

Additionally, many nurses have visible piercings as long as it isn’t excessive or disruptive to workplace safety.

Fields such as nurse entrepreneurs have the most freedom since they own their businesses.

Moreover, nurses in the research field or performing telephone triage often have lots of freedom as their appearance is less noticeable.

Conversely, those working directly with patients may have sterner restrictions regarding acceptable attire/body art.

Piercings and Body Modifications

In addition to tattoos, hospitals, and healthcare facilities may place strict limitations on piercings and body modifications.

It includes nose, tongue, belly button piercings and under-the-skin body modifications.

Some facilities allow nurses to wear a tiny stud in each earlobe. Others may prevent any visible piercings from showing.

As a result, before wearing piercings, determine what’s appropriate in the workplace.

If you enjoyed this post, check out can nurses wear nail polish?