June 3, 2014

Problems – Diabetes and Tattoos

Since I don't have tattoos, I admit I don't understand people that insist on having them. When I blogged about tattoos here and a doctor's insistence that they be standardized for those of us that have diabetes, I was a little snarky and asked the doctor to stay out of our lives. Now there is more on tattoos and one of the better articles about people with diabetes obtaining tattoos.

The article starts with a discussion about a young woman with an infection from her tattoo. What is not said is the level of diabetes management and whether proper care had been taken. People with diabetes are predisposed to staphylococcal infection.

Tattoos are popular, and teens do like them. However, the tattoo application process and aftercare can be long, painful, and stressful. This can be problematic for people with diabetes. Both blood pressure and blood glucose levels can rise while the tattoo is being applied. Add high blood glucose levels because of unmanaged diabetes, and the risk of infection increases.

Factors to consider before obtaining a tattoo:

Tattooist quality The tattoo studio should be licensed and/or accredited. The patients should also research the company's reputation, hygiene, and safety practices.

Safety and awareness The tattooist should be informed of the patient's diabetes so they can tailor both the procedure and aftercare information. Always walk away from a business that does not show the proper concern for a person with diabetes.

Placement Certain areas should be avoided including those with poor circulation, such as:
  • Buttocks
  • Shins
  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Common insulin injection sites such as arms, abdomen, and thighs.

Tattoos in these places usually take longer to heal, which can lead to complications and infection.

Other Risks
  • Allergic reactions - reaction to the substances used in the inks and equipment.
  • Skin infection - the tattooed area of skin may become infected if the studio and/or tattoo equipment is not clean or proper aftercare is not applied.
  • Scarring - tattoo application can cause the formation of an oversized scar known as a keloid, which can be irritable and slightly painful.
  • Blood-borne diseases - if the tattoo needle or ink has not been sterilized, there is a risk of blood-borne illnesses such as HIV and Hepatitis B or C.
  • Wound healing - abnormally high levels of blood glucose could delay healing of the tattooed skin and increase the risk of infection.
If the patient feels unwell or sees any sign of infection after the tattoo has been completed, they should seek immediate help from their doctor or diabetes healthcare team.

If you are a person with diabetes that just has to have a tattoo, be sure you at least go prepared and follow the information above.

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