September 16, 2014

Before You Get a Tattoo

Now what would a woman or for that matter a man with diabetes want with a tattoo? Unless your diabetes is extremely well managed, you will run the risk of infection and poor healing. I don't care if it is for beauty, self-expression, or any other reason. If you are one that insists on having a tattoo, make sure you know the facts before and after the tattoo. Make sure you know the types of tattoos, the tattoo risks, FDA's role, and tattoo removal options.

There are at least five types of tattoos:
Permanent Tattoo: A needle inserts colored ink into your skin. Permanent tattoos last a lifetime.
Permanent Make-Up: A needle inserts colored ink into your skin to look like eyeliner, lip liner, eyebrows, or other make-up.
Henna: Plant dye called henna or mehndi is used to stain your skin.
Black Henna: Developed from henna, may contain hair dye or other dye to darken the stain and make it last longer.
'Sticker' Temporary Tattoo: A tattoo design is on a coated paper. It is put on your skin with water. Temporary tattoos may last up to 3-4 weeks. Sticker tattoos last hours to days.

When it comes to tattoo risks, these are five of the most frequent:
  1. Infections and serious illness, like HIV or hepatitis, from unclean tattoo tools, practices, or products
  2. Allergic reactions to the inks or stains can cause skin problems, such as rashes
  3. Other skin problems like increased chance of sunburn, bumps, redness, or scarring
  4. Swelling and burning of the tattoo when you get an MRI test
  5. Pain and high costs if you want to remove a permanent tattoo
Contact your state or local health department for tattoo safety information to reduce your risk. Tell your doctor about any tattoos you have before any medical procedure.

There are four points to know about FDA's role:
  • Has not approved any inks for injecting into your skin.
  • Has not approved henna or hair dye for use on your skin. Some people have reported serious skin problems after using henna or black henna.
  • Does not regulate tattoo parlors.
  • Does monitor problems from tattoos and permanent make-up.

Please report problems online to FDA or call 1-800-332-1088. The online address is -

Removing tattoos is another problem.

Permanent tattoos can be hard and painful to remove. It may take several treatments that cost a lot of money. Talk to your doctor about your options. Remember you may not be able to completely remove your tattoo, and you could get a scar when you remove your tattoo.
Laser Removal - The FDA approves certain laser devices to remove tattoos. Lighter colors such as yellow, green, and red are more difficult to remove than darker colors such as dark blue and black. It may take 6-10 treatments to remove a tattoo. Some side effects may include bleeding, redness or soreness.

Surgery - Tattoos can sometimes be removed by cutting out the tattooed skin then sewing the skin back together. Other times, the skin can be sanded down to remove the tattoo.

Ointments and Creams - The FDA does not approve tattoo removal ointments and creams or do-it-yourself tattoo removal kits. These products may cause skin rashes, burns, or scars.

As a person with diabetes, please be careful and take my suggestion to not have tattoos put on your body if you have diabetes.

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