Tattoo or Bracelet?

I know I have a little while to go before I can get a tattoo, but I was wondering which one is a better idea to get. I thought tattoo because it lasts forever as does diabetes. But some of my friends said they thought a bracelet would be better because if, by some miricle by a loving God, diabetes may go away. I have no idea which to get once I get to the age I can get a tattoo. Can anyone help?? :smiley:

Hi Amanda - My daughter 10yo, has T1D. I have a tattoo on my arm of her name with a Plumeria, that I got in Maui. She of course wants one too. I believe that the age for tattoos varies per state. In most it is 16 with parent consent and 18 otherwise. My daughter has a couple of different ID bracelets to wear, one more dressy, the other she can swim, etc. with she also has a necklace if she doesn’t feel like the bracelet. I have told her even for a T1D tat or any other tattoo, she needs to wait until 18. They are permanent and like your friends said, by the grace of God, if there is a cure, you don’t want to have to get a cover-up, on the other hand, wouldn’t that be a wonderful problem to have to have to cover up the fact that you used to be a T1D? I pray that they will find a cure for this. My advice is do what makes you happy.


My son is 22 years old he wears his Bracelet everyday. I think a tattoo is great. He doesn’t have one. I think they just don’t have a lot of guy bracelets. I would wait tell she’s 18. There’s a lot of cute tattoos for type 1

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Ok. Thanks @lgirlcg!! :smiley:

I would go with a bracelet for the simple reason that first responders are trained to look for them. I’ve never heard of people getting tattoos before, but if you do get one make sure it’s in your wrist where people will see it.

I have a Medicalalert bracelet and put all of my medical history in my profile online, so if I’m ever brought to a hospital by an ambulance the doctors there can call Medicalert to get all the pertinent information, including my other autoimmune diseases and allergies, and not just that I’m diabetic.


Great Idea!!! What would it look like? Spelled all the way? T1D?

This is what I want to get.
Image result for type one diabetes tattoo with butterfly

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I found it online and thought it looked cool.

I fully agree with @bsteingard recommendation of MedicAlert [ ], I’ve been a member for over 50 years - all my important medical information is stored there for emergency personnel. And MedicAlert has a good variety of EASILY recognized bracelets, necklaces, ,etc. EMS personnel often do NOT notice tattoos - and the really nice looking tattoo posted by Amanda does not say SHE has diabetes. It is attractive.

I also strongly endorse the ICE [In Case of Emergency] available for all phones; this app locates the “ICE” name at the top of your contact list and allows you to enter your medical condition, your doctors and your emergency contact information. On two occasions when I was non-responsive EMS personnel told me that was a lifesaver.

Our daughter who was an “over-the=road” trauma medic for over 20 years told me the first thing they look for after stopping bleeding and getting a person breathing is a bracelet emblem and ICE. The home screen on my phone is my MedicAlert emblem, my diabetes condition and my serial number issued by MedicAlert with their phone number.

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This is gonna be a very “dad-like” response to your idea about getting tattoed.

I have kids and both went thru the “I want to get a tattoo” phase. All I ever told them was if it was something they wanted to do, Please be sure to pick something you LOVE enuf to see, every single day of your life.

I don’t LOVE my diabetes enuf to have to see it seared into my body for eternity. I don’t need a reminder that I’m diabetic. I wear a medic alert chain (not by choice) and that’s more than enuf of a public display for my taste.

Not bagging on tattoos. They are fine if you want to decorate your body but in this day and age, they are so common place that any sort of messaging would just be looked over in an emergency. I agree with the others. Emergency medical folks are trained to look for chains or bracelets.

Also, teenage skin doesn’t stay in place, a lot of the time.
Two of my brothers got tattoos. Years ago. They used to say “Sherry” and “Carlene”. These days, they just look like giant hematomas. A blurry glob of blackened skin.

I am 55 y.o. and have bees T1d for 45 years. Over those years, I have lost or broke so many MedicAlert-type bracelets I lost count. So, a couple of years ago, I got a very basic tattoo on the inside of my right wrist, where first responders would look for a bracelet.

It ain’t pretty, but I didn’t get it for prettiness.

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I think bracelet is better because you may not wear it if you want. tattoo is with you whatever you want it or not. and people will associate you with your disease, not who you are, because tattoo is always mean something. but such accessory like bracelet may be just an accessory.
I think you should think about tattoo for some time. I’ve madden tattoo after 10 years of thinking, maybe it’s too much, but I’m happy that I haven’t done it earlier)

Since you seem to be unsure if a tatoo is what you want, then consider waiting and really thinking about it. I got a tatoo on a whim when I was 16, regretted it, had it removed and now have a very ugly scare to look at every day. I truely regret that decision and don’t want to to possibly regret your decision either.

Yeah, that makes sence. Wait and see what I really want. Thanks @karenchq!

I’m chiming in a little late here because I just joined a forum, but I actually have both since I sometimes have to roll my sleeves down. The bracelet can usually be seen, but the tattoo can’t with my sleeves rolled down. Also, necklaces can’t be seen unless you take it out from underneath the shirt. My reasons for getting the tattoo are are bracelets are always coming off, especially if you use a back pack, and I’ve had them come off during a couple of bike wrecks (I raced for almost 12 years).

The scariest situation of loosing the bracelet was when a car hit me on my bicycle during a training ride by myself. I went flying over the handlebars and did a face plant on the curb. When the police officer made me sit down due to a severely broken nose and lacerations, I looked down at my wrist, no bracelet. The bracelet had popped off when I hit the concrete. What if I had been unconscious? I can’t wear a pump due to skin problems, so I have to take shots and the hospital would of had no idea I was a diabetic without the tattoo on my forearm.

Another example, before the tattoo, I didn’t realize my blood sugar had dropped and I was pulled over by the police acting “drunk”. I hadn’t had diabetes for long at the time, so I didn’t recognize the hypoglycemia and was actually developing hypoglycemic insensitivity. I ended up spending 5 hours unconscious in a jail because at the time since I wore a necklace and the police, of course, couldn’t see it. When they removed my jacket, they would have seen the tattoo unless I had a long sleeve shirt on and the sleeves were rolled down. This is the reason for the bracelet and tattoo, first responder’s (police, EMT’s, doctors). Keep in mind, they are permanent, and if you get one as colorful as I did,

it will be very painful and difficult to remove. As I said, I do both. Actually, I do get compliments on the tattoo, but that’s typically from non-medical people :slight_smile: . Yes, I do sometimes get derisive stares and comments, I then tell them to look at it closely and tell them it’s a functional tattoo. Usually, that does quiet them up. Fortunately, a person I used to work was an EMT recognized the medical alert symbol and commented on it saying it was a good idea. EMT’s and other first responder’s are the ones I want to see it.

If they do develop a cure for type 1, I can think of some modifications to the tattoo.


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Paramedics are taught to look for bracelets, necklaces, anklets, shoe tags, etc. They are not taught to look for tats.

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As @987jaj said first responders will look for an alert. If you’re concerned about your alley falling off there are a number of options available in the Medic Alert catalog. While many use a “lobster claw” clasp there are ones with a stretch band, ones made of silicone which stretches over the wrist, and ones with a child over clasp such as you see on some watches (see link) Mesh Chain Medical ID Bracelet Stainless Steel | MedicAlert Foundation

If you like a particular style but don’t care for the clasp you could take it to a jeweler to see if they can switch it out.

I was in the single digits when I got my first Medic Alert sometime in the 60s. I’ve only had 1 fall off - I remember begin on a ferry ride with my mother when an announcement came over the loudspeaker that someone had turned in a bracelet. My mom took one look at my wrist, grabbed me and we went tearing off to retrieve it. See put it back on and I guess we secured it somehow for safe keeping. No problems with any of the others I’ve had over the years.

If you get a tattoo make sure the place is reputable of course. People have gotten hepatitis C and other infections by inappropriate processes. Even legal places might be at risk so just make sure they’re following protocol. I agree with bracelets. If it’s cold and you’re covering up who knows if people around you will know to check out at tattoo or know it means. If there is a medical alert how did I’ll be more clear than even if they think you’re doing drugs or something causing you to pass out. I swear people are stupid. Make it easy for them. If they see a red alert sign and it’s a traditional bracelets might be more inclined to help. If they see a tattoo they may not even know what it means. Seriously. Just assume people are stupid about this and do everything to help them out

@AAT1D, @lgirlcg, @MonicaM, @egschaub, @Dennis, @wadawabbit

BLUF: There is no reasonable expectation a tattoo would influence emergency care. *

Most of the time I keep my personal history quiet. I am retired now. I became an EMT, then Paramedic starting in 1973. Because I am retired, I did check with several active Paramedics & EMT Instructors I know across the USA. I have sad news for the tattoo advocates.

Neither of the current national EMT or paramedic curricula address tattoo’s as a form of alerting for first responders. The best a person can hope for is a nurse aide or other similar health care worker might notice a tattoo when disrobing the person and getting them into a hospital gown when the wheels of emergency care have rolled and covered much ground.

A peer in another city had a tattoo on his chest reading “NO CPR” in the exact spot a person doing proper CPR would place their hands. Another EMT Instructor, coincidentally an attorney, shared there was no standing for such a tattoo to limit or direct care.

*BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front

I hope this helps and illuminates the discussion. Please share any information to guide wise decisions. It will help us all.

At the risk of stating the obvious, getting a tattoo is painful(!). I have several and intentionally got the first one in my breast - I figured a fatty area would hurt less, at least relatively speaking; so with that experience in mind I went on to get ones on my both shoulder blades and one ankle - those definitely hurt more. I researched the salon in advance to make sure it was safe and reputable; and since open skin is a doorway for infection I spoke with my endo, who have me antibiotics to take before each procedure. Tats may fade over time and need to be re-colored. Years or decades down the road your body may or may not fight infection as well, even with antibiotics, so keep that in mind. And finally, if you ever have to wear a cast on the area where you got your tattoo… An emblem can be moved if necessary.
PS, these were body art, not “medical IDs”.