Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Tattoos for Diabetics?

September 15th, 2009 by

We all know that tattoos are cool. Well, those of us who have them do, anyway. But, lately we have been seeing more and more practical uses for tattoos. One that springs to mind at the moment was a piece that I did about having your medic alert information tattooed, and there by eliminating the need to keep track of that bracelet, or necklace.

It would seem that yet another lifesaving addition to the art of tattooing has come about, only this time it is aimed at people who are usually advised not to get a tattoo. As a matter of fact, it would also be the first tattoo ever to be actually prescribed by doctors. The tattoo is for use by diabetics.

Now most tattoo artists already know that the wavier the client signs has the proviso that you are not a diabetic. The reason why is the notoriously compromised ability of a diabetic’s skin to heal afterwards. That was for you guys out there who barely look at the wavier, and just sign the damned thing after a two second look.

So, why on earth would a doctor either apply, or prescribe a tattoo to a diabetic?

A new innovation in a very special tattoo ink. Scientists at the Cambridge-based Draper laboratories are developing a nanoparticle tattoo ink that changes color to indicate glucose levels in the skin. No longer would diabetics have to prick their fingers up to a dozen times a day, neither would they have to worry about running out of test strips, or leaving their monitor on the sink of the last motel they stayed at. In short, total freedom from constantly having to wonder what their blood sugar level is.

The ink is composed of a glucose-detecting molecule, a color changing dye, and a molecule that mimics glucose, all of which float in spherical polymer bead. If glucose levels are high the ink will turn yellow. If glucose levels are low the ink will turn purple. If everything is hunky-dory, the color will be somewhere in between. All the diabetic would need to do is give the tattoo a quick look see and know immediately what they need to do.

I know several diabetics, and believe me, they would love to have something like this. I’d bet the monitor and test strip makers aren’t going to like it, though. Well they don’t have to worry just yet.

One of the concerns is whether glucose levels taken from the skin are as accurate as those taken from blood, and how well the ink will do on different skin shades. It’s still a few years away from human testing, but so far things are looking good.

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