Tattoo You!

| Feb 1, 2001

In the March 2000 issue of Diabetes Health, reader Ruth O'Hara of New Hampshire said her 12-year-old son has diabetes, and trying to get him to wear any type of medical alert bracelet or necklace met with extremely limited success.

He asked if he could 'Just get a tattoo on my arm, that way I won't lose it.'

Thinking this might be a good solution, O'Hara spoke with nurses at her local ER and they agreed. However, she was unable to obtain a tattoo in New Hampshire or any of the neighboring states because the law states that one must be over 18, even with parental consent, to be tattooed.

"While I understand the intent of the law, and under any other circumstance would not want my child to have a tattoo, I truly believe that a tattoo might well be life saving for a person with a life-threatening disease."

No Harm in Getting a Tattoo if You Have Diabetes

In a related matter, Barb Courtney of Merrit Island, Florida, asked, "Is there is any danger for people with diabetes who want to get tattoos?" According to S. William Levy, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, there is not.

"There's no harm in getting a tattoo as long as you take the necessary precautions," says Levy. "First of all, make absolutely certain that you go to an accredited tattoo artist. Your State Board of Cosmetology may grant certificates to tattoo artists who fulfill the necessary hygienic measures."

Levy warns people with diabetes there are certain places you shouldn't have tattoos, including:

  • places with poor circulation such as ankles
  • lower legs and buttocks, and
  • areas where you take your insulin shots such as the abdomen, arms or thighs.

Levy also adds that at least 50 percent of the people who receive a tattoo regret it later. Removing a tattoo may end up costing several hundred dollars, and can result in an unwanted scar.

A Temporary Solution

Parental concerns over their diabetic children wearing medical identification, as well as adult concerns over getting tattoos now have a "temporary" solution thanks to DiBon Systems of Sarasota, Florida.

Just 4 U tattoos, which were developed by two diabetes nurse educators, came about as a result of concerns expressed by parents whose diabetic children were resistant to wearing medical alert identification. Just 4 U tattoos are temporary, washable tattoos that are colorful and come with an assortment of fun backgrounds to the medical alert emblem. The word "Diabetes" is also a part of the tattoos.

After placement, the tattoos will remain for up to five to seven days, even after bathing. They are easily removed, however, with baby oil or rubbing alcohol within 10 seconds.

Five-year-old Demi Mullen from Sarasota, Florida, wears the temporary tattoos and says they are a lot of fun.

"I wear them [so] everyone will know that I have diabetes," says Demi. "One place I wear them is on field trips we take at my school."

Basic unit price per package is $2.49 plus 50 cents shipping and handling. Volume pricing is available.

To order or for more information, call DiBon Systems at 941-342-6537.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Insulin, Medical ID Jewelry


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