Getting a tattoo as a diabetic

I have got a tattoo last year and it got infected, but I am pretty sure that was because it got dirty on a dance stage floor from modern dance rolling and sliding. I got antibiotics and eventually it was fine and then I got it touched up because of the ugly peeling. I was very careful to heal the touch up so it was totally fine.
I just went back to my general doctor and she goes “no more tattoos!” which pissed me off. [This was a few days ago so I am not posting about my immediate reaction.] She saw my previous antibiotic from a different doctor and told me I might be prone to infection because of Diabetes. She continued saying all kinds of crap about tattoo shops and stuff but I would only go to legit clean places so…
I STILL plan to get a [edited] medical alert symbol type tattoo but also make it pretty…
Does anyone have tattoo experience? Does anyone have more knowledge and/or experience with being “prone to infection”??? Has anyone gotten tattoos and healed fine??


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Hi! I’m a T1D for 27 years now! I have several tattoos! I have only had one… somewhat infected issue. And that was my most recent one. I know you really need to keep your sugars in check. Wound care like no other and follow the shop directions.

If your doctor says no. Maybe find out why? Are you prone to infected cuts.

Hi thanks!

hm. she said “you’re prone to infection because you have diabetes”. this was however a primary doc and not my diabetes specialist so…I’m not sure. I guess talking to my specialist (again) is the next step.

Well yes we are prone and we take longer to heal. But I have 6 and I got them from age 17-36. Some large. Just wound care. Have your sugars in control before and after. And if th specialist say no. Then maybe it’s a no. :frowning:

Gabriela @gabimontoya, yes diabetes may make you more prone to infection and several other conditions, but I’m willing to say - based on what you have shared - that your infection may NOT have been BECAUSE of diabetes.
Similarly, a person with diabetes may be susceptible to heart / coronary conditions but only a small percentage of persons with such heart / coronary conditions actually have TypeOne diabetes; many doctors are prone to take the easy way out and blame your / our diabetes instead of using their heads and figuring out the actual reason.


* PS: I’m the villain who made the deletion. I should have sent you a note, but please use care in the future.


Hi Dennis,

Thanks, that all sounds true. And I completely understand about the deletion.

Hi again- yeah true…thanks!

Thanks. and Gabriela thanks for all your recent posts, you are providing good informat / insight for those you need answers and are searching - you have a positive impact.

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thanks! I hope I can help the community in some way!

no worries! So what do you want to get?

so I have several ideas but the one that I am the most committed to or most determined to get is a medical alert symbol but that’s pretty. I saw one someone else got that is just the two spirals around the pole going up and getting wider and with flowers coming out the top of it…I think I would want the spiral as a snake or two snakes though…and I’m thinking about what types of flowers. Also thinking about T1 Diabetes in plain font below it, like at my wrist if the symbol is on my forearm, but I’m a dance performer so I’m not sure that I would want to have that on my arm…

I have 5 tattoos that I got separately several years ago. I told my doctor and he prescribed antibiotics for me to take before and after - no problems! Several years later, though, they have faded and I would like to get them colored in -but I think the ones on my leg would be especially susceptible to infection so I’m going to pass.

Hi! Cool-thanks for letting me know. That 's interesting that you got antibiotics before! Perhaps I should try that. Good luck if you go get them redone or more! I agree about the leg. I also attribute mine to being on my ankle :confused:

Hi, I was diagnosed more than 41 years ago at age 10 1/2. I have 2 tattoos, one I had done at age 17 and the other at age 18. I never had a problem back then they may have faded some over the years, but they are still looking pretty good. I was careful to keep them covered the first week or 2 and then I believe I used baby oil to help them heal. No infection at all and I never had a discussion with my doctors about them over the years. Like everyone has said, use common sense and treat them as if they are wounds until they heal completely. Those doctors that say “we can’t” or “should not” because we are diabetic are simpy giving the quick easy response.

Hi. I got my first (and only, at this point) tattoo a couple of years ago. I didn’t ask my doctor, as I knew I was going to do it anyway. I did tell the tattoo artist that I was T1D and he said that he wouldn’t do the tattoo on my foot, ankle, etc because of the possibility of compromised wound healing. I was impressed that he knew that much about diabetes! I wanted it on my shoulder, so it was no problem, and everything healed perfectly.

hi @gabimontoya -

I’ve had T1 for 52 years this coming July. I have 4 tats and I’m sure that’s not the end (the one in the planning stage is a pink ribbon for the breast the tumor was taken out of). My first was on my hip when I was 19. I have one on my ribs/side that took 3 sittings. I’ve asked my endo and PCP for abx prior and they said categorically NOT - the overabundant abuse of abx has led to abx-resistant superbugs. Tattoo care and healing science has advanced significantly over the 30 years between my first and the latest. I hope you don’t pursue antibiotics pre- and post-tattoo - I also suffer from the condition where abx killed a significant amount of beneficial flora in my colon so I’m at risk of a worsening condition each time I’m prescribed them for a legitimate infection.

Your doc is right tho - the shop HAS to be clean, autoclave their tools, the artists must wear gloves, the beds/chairs have to be disinfected before and after each client. AND you have to follow the instructions provided - don’t roll on the floor with a new tat. It’s the same as having an OPEN WOUND. A little common sense could have prevented the scolding by the doc.

YES, diabetics are PRONE to infections. High glucose + open skin = feeding frenzy for bacteria.

If or when you get your next one - 1) keep the site clean and pat dry; 2) apply only unscented moisturizer once or twice a day (NOT Bacitracin/Neosporin), and MOST IMPORTANTLY 3) monitor your glucose levels - as you know, unexplained and prolonged high glucose readings is indicative something is going wrong in your body.

My last piece of advice is THINK. Is this experience worth your life and your health? Don’t opt to rebel against the doctor just because she pissed you the %&@$ off. Have an adult conversation about what you want and devise a plan, together. There are a lot of artists who have no tattoos and have lived to talk about it!

I wish I could post a picture of mine. I think you’d be impressed.

Best of health,


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I agree about the quick response. especially from how she talked otherwise too. thanks for sharing

Hi Nancy
I agree mostly and understand your points. Thanks for sharing about the antibiotic resistance…However, I did all of those things and the shop was safe and clean and I told the dude about it. There is however, with multiple aspects of diabetes, no perfect handbook about how to manage diabetes let alone skin wound healing while dancing (rolling, having specific clothing, sweating).
Additionally I am certainly the type of person to think things through rather than act on sudden anger and rebellion. I realize that they will stay on the body and I realize that health is most important. I have been researching this topic–when I don’t have the answers I want to get them and I try to use many resources…So I understand why you’re saying to think about it…
Hopefully I’m going toward better control with new cgm and with this lesson learned and research continued the next one will heal well.

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Excellent! Thanks for letting me know. I bet your next tat will be awesome.

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I have had Type 1 diabetes for 25 years and got a tattoo (armband so relatively big) 5 years ago. I talked to my endocrinologist first and he told me that he was fine with me getting a tattoo because my A1C was good, in the low 7 range at that time. I didn’t have any trouble with it, followed all of the instructions given by the tattoo artist (keeping it clean, dry, etc.) which I think is important.

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