Medic Alert tattoo?

By Xa Latest Reply 2014-03-03 14:06:48 -0600
Started 2008-11-09 09:22:16 -0600

I'm thinking of getting one.

Pros (as I see them):
- Style/image: I think the bracelets are hokey and tattoos are cool. I don't have any tattoos now, partly because I've always half worried that I'd never find gainful employment if I did. But isn't a serious medical condition like diabetes a GREAT excuse to have a tattoo?
- Safety. As it is, I never wear my medic alert bracelet. It's a pain to put on and I've never found one I liked (see above).

- Will never be able to lie about not having diabetes.
- Social stigma attached to being tattooed.
- What if my medic alert tattoo turns out to be just just as hokey as a medic alert bracelet, only more permanent?

I would really appreciate input from others on this. Thanks!

UPDATE: Apparently ALL the cool diabetics are doing it! I found this site with a ton of pictures of medic alert tattoos for type 1's:

61 replies

Anonymous 2013-11-08 13:57:41 -0600 Report

As long as your diabetes is well managed. Theres no problem. Suggest you talk to your doctor beforehand

califlowersmith 2011-04-18 19:20:12 -0500 Report

I have had the tatoo on my left wrist for years. On the underside of my wrist I got "Diabetic" tatooed in a nice looking cursive writing. The positive comments over the years have been worth it, from the public, friends, & emergency personnell. C

Flustrated 2011-04-14 13:50:13 -0500 Report

What are the chances of infection. I thought being diabetic you would really have to worry about it. How do you know where you go is a safe place to get it done? This was discussion in 2008. What about 2011?

officervanessa 2010-02-10 11:44:36 -0600 Report

this is such a rad idea!!! i have several tattoos already… and i always joked about getting a diabetic tattoo of my insulin pump on my side… haha… but, this is a great idea! i think im gonna get one ;) do it!!!!

Rocket 2010-01-16 23:19:01 -0600 Report

Thinking about getting one myself. I work in "high voltage" conditions and the bracelet/necklace is a safety hazard. As far as "hokey", that depends on who does the tatoo. I had two done at age 25 and they sucked. I had a cover-up job done three months ago and am very satisfied now. As far as lying about being diabetic, give it time. I have had the big "D" for 32 years now and have now hit the point in my life where I don't give a damn. I walk out in my yard with my shirt off and talk to my neighbor (with my pump on). I get funny looks when I do that, but I honestly don't care anymore. I have been told not to get tatoos due to infections and so-forth, but after three I still have all my limbs and had NO problems. Let us know how it goes. I'll post a picture of mine when I get it done (it'll be a while).

vgarrison 2010-02-07 12:55:12 -0600 Report

I personally think it is awsome that you are so comfortable with this disease that you can walk around without your shirt on with the pump visible. I say Koodos to you man.

As far as infection with a tattoo, Diabetics are no anymore seseptable to infection that a non diabetic…we just take longer to heal. I was told by my tat artist (who's girlfriend of 14 is diabetic) that he will not tat anyone with a A1c over 8. That makes sense to me. If your A1c is too high then youhave a higher chance of taking longer to heal, which can make it a higher possibility for infection, not to mention scaring.

Good luck to all thinking of taking the diabetic tattoo plunge!!

Blessed Be

Laurice 2009-10-09 08:17:22 -0500 Report

I was just think about getting my daughter one, she is only 7. My daughter has already lost her bracelet and broke her necklace. Maybe when she is old enough, I will let her make that decision.

vgarrison 2009-10-10 21:25:09 -0500 Report

They do make temporary medical alert tattoos…I think that might work for what your looking for, but rememeber they only work when you remember to put them on as well…LOL

twice_as_nice45 2010-01-17 00:32:30 -0600 Report

Thanks for that hint. I've been looking at them online and can't wait to order some for my 10 year old who can't seem to keep up with his bracelet or dog tags!

cbelyea 2009-10-08 23:09:22 -0500 Report

Hi Xa, don't know where you're at with this, but here're my thoughts. Only you can answer whether or not a tattoo is right for you. No need to elaborate on that. I've read a bit about this, too, and think I may do this sometime in the future. I happen to agree with the individual who thinks the tattoo being voided by a cure would be a blessing of an issue.

However, I think that it's pretty arguable that moving away from the traditional alerts (jewelry) to a tattoo exclusively is a risky move. No, it can't be forgotten. Yes, it can be overlooked. My understanding is that it is still mainstream for EMT's, etc., to look for a piece of jewelry. Something physical. Even if they see your tattoo, chances are not-inconsiderable it will be dismissed in a time-critical situation. Less embellishment is probably better to reduce confusion of purpose of the tat. If they don't see that it's medically relevant right away, it may be overlooked. If you want a permanent clear marker, stick to something that resembles the bracelets or necklace charms. If you want a bad ass tattoo, get a bad ass tattoo that's not diabetes related.

Given all of this, this is what I would personally consider: med-alert tattoo in an obvious place, such as inside of writst. Simple design, but well drawn. Go to several artists. I would also keep wearing my Medic Alert on my necklace. It's not uncomfortable and I put it on a quality chain, so it's functional, and, ahem, attractive. (?) Maybe. My point is, if you're concerned about safety, the more chances to alert the pros, the merrier,

Oh, and BTW, I love your name!

InsulinJunkie 2009-10-06 16:13:27 -0500 Report

I love mine! I got the idea last year and got the ink in December 08. So almost a year now. You can see it in my pictures. It is on the wrist of my right arm. I always lose jewelry and think the medical bracelets are not all that "nice". I get so many compliments on it out in public, and my doctors love it! I unfortunately have had many visits to the hospital and from the paramedics to know that one day I might not be able to talk for myself and this very colorful tattoo should stand out enough to catch someones eye! (although I pray it never gets to that!) And as far as being worried about having something permanent that you won't like… just make sure you go to a reputable tattoo shop and let the tattoo artist draw it up for you first. Personalize it to your likings. Like I chose the colors on mine. Predominantly purple, my fav color, with the yellow and green… looks rastafarian! If you do go with the tat, make sure you update your photo!! Good luck!

Vanessa Wysper
Vanessa Wysper 2009-09-30 11:45:11 -0500 Report

Here's my take on the subject. Medical tattoos and bracelets would be really helpful if medical personnel every actually looked for them.
I have a protocol set up with my son's school, that if he doesn't show up to school, I haven't called him in sick, and they can't reach me by phone, they call an ambulance to my house.
When it actually happened, the EMTs were shouting at me trying to get answers about what I had taken. They assumed I was on drugs. They never looked at my Medic Alert bracelet. Not once. I was completely unable to communicate. At the hospital, no one looked at my bracelet. They drew blood, forced me to have oxygen and saline. It wasn't until my mother arrived at the hospital and screamed at them that they finally gave me a glucose drip. Which at that point, they left me alone and I vomited repeatedly because of the sugar shock to my system. It was unbelievable that I stayed conscious the whole time. After an hour on the glucose drip, my blood sugar registered at 64!
If the EMTs had even thought to look for a bracelet, treatment could have started in my home, rather than an hour after getting to the hospital.
Regardless of having a bracelet or a tattoo, it won't help you if no one bothers to look for one.
I now also have a File of Life sticker on my front door, with my File of Life med info on the front of the fridge.
Maybe a tattoo on the forehead wouldn't be missed!

vgarrison 2009-10-01 00:19:47 -0500 Report

Ok that is a sad sad store, but at least it did have a happy ending…your here. I have 2 comments about this situation though…if you have a protocol set up at the school why did they not call it in as a possible diabetic problem??

Also the way I figure it is that if they go to start an IV on me…most of them are going to go for the wrist or arm…and then bam there is the tat…

Blessed Be

vgarrison 2009-09-29 01:08:59 -0500 Report

So I've had the tattoo for 11 months now and I still love it. I've never had to "use" it yet, but I consider that a good thing. My mom is an ER nurse and I go and see her at work sometimes and one time when I was in there she grabbed one of the Paramedics to come look at the tat…she actually told us that the tattoos are becoming more and more common. There was a memo put out about 6 months ago at the firestation that she worked at talking about looking for obvious tattoos. She did say that it was a good thing that mine is alone of the forearm, because if it's not plainly obvious that its a medical alert tattoo, then she wouldn't glance twice.

It was nice being able to talk to a paramedic about this, and get some advice from someone that does this type of thing for a living. I know I have never regretted the decision to get my tattoo, and I have been complimented on it from various medical personal as well.

I believe that a diabetic getting a tattoo can be done without worry as long as the A1c levels are close to normal and they take great care of it.

After I got the medical alert tattoo I have gotten more tats (I am married to a tattoo artist…we call it practice…) and I have still had absolutly no problems what so ever, but again everyone is different!!

Blessed Be

Robbie - 24474
Robbie - 24474 2009-09-25 09:05:01 -0500 Report

I've wanted to do this for a while, but I just haven't taken the plunge yet. Just a few weeks ago I sat with my wife in a tattoo studio while she got her first one done.

I don't wear any kind of medical identification and never really have. I use an insulin pump now that is attached to me 24/7 (except in the shower or pool) so if I do have an issue out in public, I think the paramedics would be able to make the diabetic deduction fairly quickly once they saw the pump, infusion site and CGM sensor sticking out of me. I don't know… I may still do the tattoo thing. It's a cool idea.

Turtle 2009-09-24 23:28:22 -0500 Report

I think it is a great idea. I do not like bracelets either. I have other tattoos and I love them. Maybe I will look into this too.

I think, to answer the question, I would have it on my lower arm.


Frustrated mom
Frustrated mom 2009-09-23 13:24:31 -0500 Report

My son got one on the inside of his forearm…Before he got it we made sure that he was feeling good and that his sugars were okay..It really turned out very good. he designed it himself..His Endo team loved it and thought that it was a great idea…Yes it is permanet, but so is diabetes…He did not get an infection and kept AD ointment on it for a few weeks (so it would not dry out). He was in a car accident last spring and when the ambulance got there, that was the first thing that they saw and later they told me they thought that was a great idea..The bracelets were always breaking or he would not keep it on, the tattoo has already proved to be a lifesaver for him…But tattoos are a personal choice,one that was a good choice for my son…But maybe not for everyone. Good luck in your descion.

Gaz 2009-09-23 12:25:43 -0500 Report

its a great idea getting it tatted on. I've got some tatts alrwady and there's nothing I regret at all about them. I'm designing my next one now. I thyink about the size of my palm on my forearm medic alert. But I'll beef up the snake a bit to make it look bit better to blend with my others.

2009-02-08 19:25:29 -0600 Report

I've been diabetic since 1992, and have sat for the needle a total of 41 times. If I have any advice on getting tat's at the wrists, it would be to NOT get one directly at the wrist, go alittle up, that way if you are worried about it showing, you can wear long sleeves, and that should work.

As far as infection, I've only had one adverse reaction, and it was with a rather large tat on my calf. Now I no longer get ink on my legs. My tattooist, who is VERY responsible, will NOT tattoo my feet, due to the risk of infection.

Just make sure your tattooist is sterile, that is a MAJOR issue I had when searching for an artist.

I wish you good luck!

momwith juvie
momwith juvie 2009-01-31 14:21:49 -0600 Report

I think it is an awsome son hates wearing a braclett or necklace so it would be a good idea.i say go for it.

sew49781 2009-01-28 18:21:03 -0600 Report

I just heard about his and I think a tattoo is a pretty neat idea - no chance of losing it, no chance of breaking it (figuratively speaking), can't get it caught in machinery.

My suggestion is put on your wrist - as an EMT, the first procedure I will do is a blood glucose. When I do that, I will roll up the sleeves because if I need an IV I can get a good look at where to start it while the meter is reading.

If the tattoo is on the wrist you CANT miss it, unless you are blind. Make sure your tattoo artist has a license to do tattooing. They should be in 1 or 2 inch letters on the front window as you enter the parlor.

Don't worry about what potential employers may think about your tattoo. When they ask you in your interview if you have any questions or anything to add, just take the time to explain the tattoo and why you have it - you've got their full attention at that point anyway, why not?

As for the bracelets - if you get one, get the old school chain link ones. I know the new pretty bling bling bracelets are in style and they look good, but they are easily overlooked because they just look like another piece of jewelry.

Take care of yourselves!

JP Chase
JP Chase 2008-12-07 05:20:52 -0600 Report

In my opinion the braclets are stupid. I climb and have broken several braclets in the past. I have two tattoos showing that I am diabetic, one on my right wrist with the medic alert sign saying diabetic and on my left wrist a piece of candy with sugar free written on the inside. I have had many compliments on my tattoos from friends, doctors, and just passers by. as for hokey just pick a good design for you. a friend of mine type 1 has a silver back gorrila with a candycane looking upset with diabetic written around it. just don't go for that idea. and why would you want to lie about your diabetes? screw people who don't understand or just look scared. and social stigma? It's the 21st century there are more people with than without. hope my rambling helped.

Sparrow - 16557
Sparrow - 16557 2008-12-04 01:23:32 -0600 Report

There are other reasons why getting a tattoo may not be a good idea. It causes a "change" in the blood that can make it more difficult for organ transplantation.

Not that you're planning on getting a transplant, but it is a reality that diabetics have to consider. Kidney transplantation is becoming more and more common with diabetics because kidney failure is a real possibility. I know that one of the main questions asked when I was being evaluated for a transplant was, "Do you have any tatoos?". When it camr time for my transplant, there were actually two of us called in as recipients. The otherguy had a couple of tattoos so they said he would have to wait.

Again, not that that is ever going to happen to you, but it's something to think about.

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-12-04 06:25:54 -0600 Report

I was also asked about tattos before I got on the transplant list and I think piearcing too. I know my endocrinologist talked to me several time and told me to not get any because infections can lead to further complications. I was just glad to have got a kidney transplant…Debe

DiabetesDiva 2009-09-25 12:58:14 -0500 Report

I have a Facebook friend that rec'd a gift of lungs. She has a beautiful tattoo on her upper arm with the date of the transplant.

I have a nose piercing. I think there is a stigma about tattoos and piercings. Most women have pierced ears.

vgarrison 2008-11-14 15:14:54 -0600 Report

Ok here is another concern that I had not thought of before getting my tattoo. Its not horrible, and I would get it again, but I have since figured out that it is extremely difficult to keep my tattoo moist. For the first week or two you have to keep the tatto moist using A & D or tattoo goo or something along those lines. Since diabetics are reknowned for having dry skin, just keep that in mind if you are considering getting a tattoo.

Its just something that I never thought of…still looks awsome though, just hope it being dry doesnt make it look like poop in the futre…LOL


midget 2008-11-12 04:08:26 -0600 Report

i have a tatoo on my ankle after a few years later i developed hepitatas, was taking medicine to cure it and now i don't have it anymore but now i have diabetes cause the medicine i was taking killed my pancureas, (didn't spell it right), but you get what i'm saying, so that's how i got my diabetes and now you know.
but i love tatoos, wouldn't mind getting another but no

Amy Tenderich
Amy Tenderich 2008-11-12 03:30:09 -0600 Report

Hi Xa,

You bring up a lot of good points. I've written quite a bit about tattoos with diabetes:

This one explores the pros and cons:

See also:

Best of luck making your decision.

  • AmyT
Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-11-12 03:41:04 -0600 Report

I went in and read your site. Wow I like the ideas of the tattoo. I want one when I go on vacation at Christmas time. I think I am going to order this today and give it a try in December. If I like it I will order a few more. Do you suggest putting it on the wrist?…Debe

momoftype1 2008-11-11 23:43:52 -0600 Report

I am hoping my duaghter does not see the site-she will want to trade her rope bracelet for a tattoo-she has to wait a few years…LOL-I would consider the ribbon and search for a cure for myself. Like many other people on here I work in a business environment, but got my first tattoo in 2006 while in Vegas. I would love to add another one, the good news is that it is on my back and therefore is personal for me, but the idea of doing the symbol on the wrist is cool-and Vicki, I like the VOID idea after the cure is found LOL-


vgarrison 2008-11-09 19:13:10 -0600 Report

Here is my take on it. I got my medical alert tattoo yesterday…LOOKS AWSOME!! tactful, and noticable…but not gawdy. I have uploaded 2 different pictures under my profile…if you look on the wider angled picture, you will see my green silicone medical alert braclet that i am still wearing as well as the tattoo.

The way I have looked at it is, ok so if they find a cure…I get another tattoo over it that says VOID…hehe…Ok so I'm a little weird, but hey I'm ok with that. My tattoo would be the last thing on my mind if they find a cure…soooo.

Also many people on here already know this, but my husband is a tattoo artist. We have done some extensive research on the topic before I allowed anything on me. I already have 2 other tattoos, but they are the size of quarters, and they were before my diagnosis.

I was very very lucky with my tattoo artist (my hubby wouldnt do it, only because he wanted to make sure he could hold my hand, I'm a wimp). The artist himself has extensive knowledge about tattoos and diabetes for his girlfriend of 14 years was diabetic. He and I are friends as well, and we have been talking about my tattoo for a month or so. The day I found out I was diabetic I knew I was going to get one.

Also I too was an EMT for 5 years or so, I figure I was trained to look at the wrist and my tattoo is right there…I am very very pale skinned, it is very noticable…but not gawdy looking. I am going to school for business and didn't want something too out there…

Ok enough of my rambling…

Blessded Be

Bekki Diabetic
Bekki Diabetic 2009-09-25 09:36:42 -0500 Report

I think you tat is awesome but as older person (and sissys) I would have to settle for the dog tags. You can purchase one inexpensively or you can get them for lots of money. They are not that large but you can get quite a bit of information on them. Both of boys enjoy tattos and I find them to be expensive. To each there own.

Xa 2008-11-09 16:16:22 -0600 Report

So I did a google image search for "medic alert tattoo" and found an interesting news story on this very subject. Apparently the former EMT who posted concerns about paramedic not checking for tattoos is in good company…

Here's the link:

Another great site with LOTS of pictures of medic alert tattoos for diabetics:

sparkysmom 2008-11-09 15:45:00 -0600 Report

I wear a set of dog tags. If I had a tattoo it would have to be a full back piece to cover all the medical stuff LOL

Anngelia 2009-01-31 14:02:44 -0600 Report

Well that is one of the benefits of a medicalert tag. It has a 1-800# on it and an I.D# so medical personel can call and find out all of your medical conditions. I think they can also keep your doctors # on file and closest family members and their phone #. I think the tats look cool but I would never want to tatoo all of that on my body, lol.

sexyswamprat 2008-11-09 15:43:34 -0600 Report

I think a diabetic tattoo is a great idea. As long as it is on the wrist were most people look for a bracelet. As a lover of tattoos, and having several myself, I am really considering getting one on my wrist. My bs is very well controlled and I'm getting the tattoo fever again. I can't think of a better one to get than something that could save my life.

sexyswamprat 2008-11-09 15:47:05 -0600 Report

I wish I had the nerve to tattoo everything that is wrong with me somewhere visable on my body. I get so tired of repeating everything that I have to every doctor I have. And I think it would be a good way not to forget anything. But I don't think it would look very good and everyone in the world would know what was wrong with me.

Frustrated mom
Frustrated mom 2009-09-23 13:31:10 -0500 Report

My son put his on the inside of his forearm with his diagnoises date..It is not very big, but it is very effective. Good luck..

highlandcitygirl 2008-11-09 10:18:18 -0600 Report

on one hand i want to jump on this idea,as the only bracelet i could afford at the time was ugly! but the idea of it being permanent bothers me a little(not much). i'll never forget all the people at a church dinner who said they had diabetes and none had any i.d. at all.a disaster in the making surrounded by all that food.(lots of sweets)

Audge 2008-11-09 10:36:32 -0600 Report

I have never seen one what does it look like? I think it sounds interesting I have a insulin pump I do not wear a bracelet anymore

highlandcitygirl 2008-11-09 10:42:27 -0600 Report

it had large gold links and the emblem was red. it was chunky and ackward. i was always forgetting to put it back on after my shower.

vgarrison 2008-11-09 18:32:53 -0600 Report

Ok the best bracelet that I have found is on ebay..its a silicone braclet and the company I got it from has a huge rainbow of colors…the best part is with the shipping and all it cost about 5 bucks…not too shabby. I have a medical alert tattoo (got it yesterday) but I'm still wearing my jewelry…just cuz.

Blessed Be

morris.js 2008-11-09 10:11:24 -0600 Report

The big question I have, is where would you get your tattoo? If it is on your wrist, then it probably would be of some use, but if it is on a more "private" part, then it probably would not be seen until too late.
Also as mentioned in another discussion about getting tattoos, make sure your BG is well in control before even thinking about it, or you risk even more chance of getting infections.
As far as any stigma attached to getting tats, well I think for the most part, that is not an issue any more. There are so many people with them now that it is very hard to discriminate against those with them…LOL Personaly, I think done tastefuly, body art is very sexy…and if placed properly, a medic alert one would be useful.
I hope this helps. John

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-11-09 10:56:11 -0600 Report

My biggest concern about diabetes is infection. What happens when it gets infected? I lost a leg over a paper cut that turned into an infection. I think a medic alert braclet, necklace should do right. I was a paramedic and I don't think in a time of emergency I would be looking all over the body to find a tattoo for medical help unless it was tattooed in the middle of your chest…the jewlery is also a lot cheaper than a tattoo…Debe

caspersmama 2008-11-09 12:22:24 -0600 Report

my doctor told me that as a diabetic i should not get one because it may not heal right and the risk of infection. also because we heal slower it might have other problems too. but i do know some that have gotten them but i personally would not take the risk.

caspersmama 2008-11-09 12:25:34 -0600 Report

yes it would have to be noticably seen. do emt know to look for medic alert tatoos when they come. maybe emts should be educated on that also. i know they will look for bracelets and necklaces but tatoos unless seen really well would not be noticed.

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2008-11-09 13:20:27 -0600 Report

I am now disabled. My adrenaline rush when a person is down and unconscience , with no one around them is to look for medical alert on wrist, chest or neclace. If some one is in bad shape, I sure not going to spend time examining the whole body for a tattoo unless there was a special place it was to be placed. At my time of working I never seen one or heard of any yet. I worked in an ER for 23 years and never learned anything on it either. Its been about 15 yrs since then. Now I'm curious. I am going to call the hospital and our ambulance service to see if there is a protocal on this. I will get back to you…Debe

marla3300 2008-12-07 07:15:14 -0600 Report

I believe there is still an issue of tattoos and their being located on a visible place. Many companies place the importance of appearance as a factor in hiring, and tattoos (although popular) still give a bad impression.
I do think it is an excellent reason for a tattoo, if you have to have one, why not, it might save your life.

vgarrison 2008-12-07 11:08:27 -0600 Report

Yes I agree…some companies do not want to hire someone that appears "unprofessional"…the great thing about my medical alert tattoo is that it is located on my forearm…which means that if I need to I can wear long sleeves and no one will be the wiser. Also I know of a few people that have their medical tattoos on their chest…but they are way braver than me…OOOOOWWWWWW!!!!

marla3300 2008-12-08 21:58:19 -0600 Report

If I had the courage I would put in on my wrist. With a cool tribal tat around it. Some of these tattoos on the wrist look like jewlery.
I know someon who has a wrist watch tattooed on his. Strange right?

vgarrison 2008-12-08 22:32:42 -0600 Report

My hubby is a tattoo artist…you wouldn't believe some of the tattoos that people ask him to put on them…

One thing I'm worried about is if you wear a bracelet that is too fashinable then it might be overlooked more…


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