Blood Glucose and tattoos
Being a diabetic does not mean that you are unable to have a tattoo or piercing. But your Blood Glucose (BG) levels must be in range before you do.
If your BG levels are not in range your tattoo or piercing may not heal properly or as fast, and it increases your risk of developing an infection during the healing process. Blood pressure should also be stable before the procedure to minimise the risk of such complications. Discussing with your diabetes team and getting an A1C test before the procedures, is advised as you will get more details about yourself in particular and whether you can do it with minimal risk.
Tattoos or piercings can take a long time to complete and be painful, because of this your BG levels may rise due to the increased stress you are undergoing. It is important to talk to the tattoo artist about your condition and make it clear you will require regular breaks to monitor and manage your BG levels throughout the session.
Make sure to bring some sugary snacks and hypo treatments, as hypos are just as likely to occur while getting a tattoo.
what body parts are ok?
As a diabetic, there are some body parts you might want to avoid getting tattoos or piercings on, this is due to some places on your body having a naturally higher risk of developing poor blood circulation.
Getting a tattoo or piercing in one of these places most commonly takes longer to heal, which increases the risk of infections. These include and are not limited to:
Avoid areas where you may inject insulin, such as your stomach, thighs or arms, so you can see if bruising or swelling develops in those areas. Furthermore, if you are using a Continuous Glucose Monitor or are considering getting one, these should never be placed over an area with a tattoo, as this will most definitely impact readings.
Using a licensed tattooist or piercing studio will minimise the risk of developing mentioned complications. Tattoo and piercing studios in the United Kingdom require a licence to operate from their local council. Having a licence means the employees that are doing the procedure have been trained and follow the correct procedure and maintain hygiene standards.
Following this link will find locally registered and licenced tattoo and piercing studios near you: https://www.gov.uk/skin-piercing-and-tattooing
Making sure you chose a safe and licenced studio for your tattoo or piercing, will ensure you are picking a place that acknowledges and follows the hygiene standards of the local council. Dirty equipment can lead to serious infections and other illnesses that in the worst cases amputation is the only option.
Please be safe with the allure of cheaper artists that are not licensed. This is a huge risk that should not be taken.
How to look after a tattoo or piercing
After your tattoo is done, you may probably be thinking it’s all done now. Unfortunately not. The healing process can take up to one month depending on size and location. During this time you will have to treat the area similar to an open wound because that’s what it is.
Keeping a close watch on your Blood Glucose levels during this time is crucial as your body will be using energy to heal the mentioned ‘wound’.
Keeping the tattoo site clean and covered with a new dressing daily can help it heal faster and minimise the risk of infection.
Keeping your diabetes team updated on your BG levels during the healing process this will help you manage your BG levels and keep you safe. If you are worried about the healing process and think something may be wrong or you have an infection, seeing your GP as soon as possible is highly advised, if you are not able to see a GP call 111 or 999 if in an emergency (Moderate-Severe swelling, Moderate-Severe rash, any difficulty breathing).
People get tattoos for many reasons, something meaningful or personal. However, some have chosen to use tattoos in a less common way, which is to say that they have diabetes.
These types of tattoos have increased in popularity recently and some diabetics are replacing their medical alert accessories with such tattoos, to alert others that they have diabetes in case of an emergency where they will require medical assistance.
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