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Tattoos and piercings with diabetes

If you're thinking about getting a tattoo or piercing as long as your diabetes is within range, there shouldn’t be a problem.

There are just a few things to bear in mind before you get one though.

Blood sugar and tattoos

Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t have a tattoo or piercing. But your blood sugar levels must be in range before you do.

If they aren’t, your tattoo or piercing might not heal properly or quickly, and risk getting an infection. Your blood pressure should also be stable to stop these problems. You might want to discuss it with your diabetes team before going ahead to check everything’s okay.

Getting a tattoo can take a long time and be painful, which will make your blood sugar rise. Make sure you talk to the tattoo artist and take breaks regularly so you can monitor your blood sugar levels throughout.

Bring snacks and hypo treatments just in case.

Avoid certain parts of the body

If you have diabetes, you’re best to avoid getting tattoos and piercings on certain areas on your body where there’s a risk of poor circulation.

Tattoos and piercings in these places usually take longer to heal, which can cause infections. These include your bum, shins, ankles and feet.

You should also avoid areas where you usually inject insulin, like your arms, stomach and thighs, so you can clearly see if any infections are developing on these sites. If you use, or are considering using flash glucose monitoring, these should not be worn over areas with tattoos, as this could impact your results.

Use a licensed tattooist or piercer. Tattoo and piercing studios in the UK all need a licence from their local authority. This means that they’re trained and follow correct, safe and hygienic procedures.

Make sure the studio you choose has this licence. You could also ask around for recommendations of a good studio to use or look at online reviews. Picking a safe and hygienic studio is really important. Unclean equipment can also cause infections and other illnesses.

Take care of yourself after your tattoo or piercing

It’s really important to keep a close watch on your blood sugar levels after a tattoo or piercing and keep it clean and covered. This will help it to heal well and quickly.

If you get an infection, your blood sugar levels might rise. See your GP straight away for help if you show any signs of infection or feel unwell after a tattoo or piercing.

Medical tattoos

If you’re getting a tattoo, it’s probably of something meaningful to you. Some people use tattoos in another way though, which is to show that they have diabetes.

‘Diabetes tattoos’ have become quite common recently. People are replacing their medical jewellery with them to tell others that they have diabetes in an emergency.

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