Tattoo Contemplation For The Diabetic

Tattoo Contemplation For The Diabetic: At the age of 17 Dustin Rykert was diagnoses with Type 1 diabetes. This wasn’t a good day for Dustin. He was a star football player with his eyes on a future NFL contract.

In 2002 when he was suited up for college play at Brigham Young University (BYU) he was beginning to get used to a lifestyle that other players never had to think about.

At the time Rykert told BYU Net News, “”I have to make sure the blood sugars are high enough during practice so I don’t pass out but low enough that I don’t become so thirsty all the time.”

These adjustments followed Rykert to the NFL where he briefly played for the Oakland Raiders. His tenure in the NFL was short lived, but it was reported that during this time Rykert received a diabetic tattoo.


The idea of a tattoo may hold only a marginal appeal to diabetics due to potential complications stemming from the procedure. The potential for infection can be problematic for diabetics, but in Rykert’s case the role of a tattoo just made sense when he was on the football field.

Reports indicate Rykert received a diabetic tattoo on his chest. The claim was that a diabetic bracelet did not withstand the rigors of playing football so the tattoo was considered a viable alternative.

There are genuine concerns for those who desire a tattoo and also live with diabetes. However, according to an ABCNews.com report there is a growing trend by younger diabetics to leave the bracelets and necklaces behind in favor or a diabetic tattoo.

The best course of action is to visit with your primary care physician first about issues that may be of concern, but according to Dr. Michael Zbiegien in that same ABCNews.com report there are a few issues to take into account when a diabetic tattoo is considered.

  • Make sure blood sugars are in good control before getting a tattoo.
  • Do not get body art if you have a hemoglobin A1c above 8 percent.
  • Make sure you go to reputable a tattoo artist.
  • Do not get a tattoo in an area with poor circulation such as your feet.
  • Try to avoid tattooing common injection sites.

While there may be circumstances where a diabetic tattoo may seem to make sense to the patient many doctors will insist that the Medic Alert jewelry is still the best lifeline in the case of a medical emergency. EMT’s are trained to inspect the patient for Medic Alert jewelry. They may not perform a visual inspection to look for a tattoo.

One concern medical practitioners may have in relation to the act of tattooing is that dirty needles could cause the individual to contract hepatitis. Proponents of diabetic tattooing would argue that the same risk would apply to any individual seeking a tattoo.

Perhaps the most important factor when contemplating a tattoo as a diabetic is whether you have been effective in the management of your blood glucose. If you do not take your disease seriously it is likely there could be complications in relation to both healing time and infections.

One diabetic in voicing her opposition to the idea said, “I lost a leg due an infection that set in following a paper cut. I don’t think I’d be interested in a tattoo.”

Some companies have developed temporary tattoos for the same purpose, but have not gained wide spread acceptance.