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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Posted by Anonymous on 16 December 2007

I actually have a tattoo of the star of life with "IDDM" underneath it on the inside of my wrist. I am 27, older than the boy ing the article, however...I love my tattoo. I never have to worry about remembering the bracelet anymore. Not only does it serve as a major medical purpose...but it's a part of me and reminds me that I am in control. Many people ask to see it and compliment it. I would highly recommend it if considering.

Posted by Anonymous on 3 March 2008

I have thought about getting a similar tattoo, any pictures to get ideas? How easily is it hidden?

Posted by Anonymous on 25 March 2008

I think no body should just get a tattoo for the heck of it. It should be an expression of yourself and have meaning to it

Posted by pancho on 30 March 2008

I have been a Type one diabetic for over 30 years, and have lost at least 10 medical alert bracelets and necklaces over the years. Last October I had my left arm tattooed with my own original designed medical alert, and think it is the best thing I have ever done. I have had more than a few times where I needed paramedics and nobody knew I was diabetic, and if you are insulin dependant, you know sometimes you can’t really talk well enough to even tell someone that you are. I am very glad I did it.

Posted by Anonymous on 2 May 2008

Howdy folks, do any of y'all have any pictures of the tattoos you're talking about. Thanks, Jason

Posted by Anonymous on 10 May 2008

Okay, what is so wrong with wearing medical ID jewelry? I've been wearing my MedicAlert bracelet for about 18 years and I've never taken it off. Like, EVER... It's real gold and I've gotten many compliments over the years for it. I don't understand how any Diabetic could "lose" his or her ID jewelry - it's just too important NOT to be worn at all times. Why take it off in the first place? I mean, if you always wear it then you don't have to worry about "remembering" to put it back on. Simple!

Posted by Anonymous on 25 August 2008

I have a medic alert tattoo on my right wrist stating type 1 diabetic. I designed it myself, and couldn't be happier with it. I am studying to be a Paramedic and all my instructors absolutely love it. I don't think anyone should be worried about someone not taking it seriously if they are in need of medical attention. It's an amazing thing to have, and I think that people should consider it as an alternative to jewellery which can wear out and fall off. You never know when you might need it, and mine is always there. On another note I also have the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation sneakers tattooed on my lower back. I figure they saved my life, I can dedicate some skin to their cause.

Theri :)

Posted by Anonymous on 23 September 2008

Hey I read an article about someone getting a tattoo with diabetes on thier ankle and it got infected, the circulation got bad and they had to ahve it removed.... if i got one could this be an issue??

Posted by Anonymous on 8 December 2008

I am a diabetic and just got my first tattoo on my groin. I am a male 19 years old. So far it has been two days of having my new tattoo. The best thing i have to say is keep your blood sugars between 80 and 180 which will help healing. ALso i have been washing my hands every time i touch my tattoo and wash the tattoo about 6x a day with soap and water. I then apply a tattoo cream called H2Ocoan, which will help the healing process.

Posted by Anonymous on 19 March 2009

i want to get a tattoo but i wanna know if im able to im alittle scared of wat will happen to me because though i am a diabetic im weird my A1C is 4.6 an they claim im a type one diabetic i believe it its jsut all so confusing

Posted by teritsa on 27 March 2009

Well I have had Diabetes type 1 for 16 years and I really want to have a tattoo but I am afraid..Am I going to have any problem with my health because of the tattoo??I really would like to know..

Posted by Anonymous on 19 May 2009

I am 27, I've had diabetes since I was 9, with A1C's always over 9.0 and I currently have 2 tattoos. I didn't have an issue with either one of them healing, just followed the normal care instructions and kept it extra clean. If you really have concerns, just discuss them with your Endo. I am really considering getting a 3rd, something stating that I am Type 1 but I can't decide on a picture or the wording. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by Anonymous on 19 May 2009

I am going to FL in a month and a half and my sister, husband, and I want to go get a tattoo. I was wondering if my having pre-diabete's is a major concern? It runs alot in my family and I am scared. Hubby says I am crazy but my sugar is fine it is my insullin level that is 3.5 times higher than it should be. Would my metforman med. bare any complications? Or would the placement of the tatt be a concern?

Posted by Anonymous on 10 March 2010

I am almost 80 years old and now have type 2 diabetes. My kids and wife have been after me to get a bracelet or notice on a chain. But I dislike both. so I just got a tattoo on the underside of my left wrist. It is a grey ribbon , that looks three dimentional and it has a blood drop on one side and T-2 on the other. Best solution I could think of and will always be with me.

Posted by Anonymous on 11 October 2011

I'm type 1 have been since 23 months old was diagnosed with testicular cancer May 2010. I got my first tattoo 1 month ago and never had a problem,just make sure you keep it clean so you don't get the site infected.

Posted by Anonymous on 6 August 2012

Im a type 2 diabetic and have just had my 15th tatt done. I've had diagnosed diabetes for approx 2yrs and was taking tablets for it. I got pneumonia 3 weeks ago so my local gp told me that while I was sick I had to have insulin injections. The tattoo I've just had done has had a reaction against the insulin. My tattooist has done 13 on me so far and I've never had a reaction like this. The ink hasn't spread but the skin is a deep purple bruise over all of it. This has happened to another one of his clients who is type 1 diabetic and whenever he goes in for more work he takes his own ice pack to put over the work,which is what my tattooist advised me to do as well. As soon as he started this tatt it reacted strate away and because he'd seen it before he told me about aftercare for insulin users who get inked. Ice pack in paper towel(not directly onto skin) and wash only for first 3-4 days before applying aftercare cream,so if anyone out there has a reaction I hope this may help you or if youre an insulin dependent diabetic who is going in for a tattoo or piercing take an ice pack with you

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