Tattoos

You should advise the tattoo artist that you have diabetes.

People with diabetes can get a tattoo if they take certain precautions. It is important to verify that the selected tattoo parlour is accredited. It is also desirable to check its reputation and its hygiene and sanitary practices. In addition to the rules of hygiene* that apply to everyone, diabetic or not, it is important to have optimal control of your blood sugar before being tattooed.

The importance of being prepared

If your diabetes is not being properly controlled, healing can take longer and increase your risk of infection. Sometimes it is better to delay getting a tattoo than to risk complications.

Optimal blood sugar control means:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) of 7% or less
  • Fasting blood glucose and before meals between 4.0 and 7.0 mmol/L
  • Blood glucose after meals between 5.0 and 10.0 mmol/L

Your blood sugar level may rise when you are being tattooed. It usually returns to normal the next day.

Areas to avoid

Certain areas of the body, particularly those with restricted circulation (shins, ankles, feet), as well as areas where you inject insulin (abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms), should be avoided because healing will be slower:

After getting a tattoo, be sure to follow the after-care advice provided by the tattoo artist to promote healing and prevent infection.

*Tattoos and Piercing, an information pamphlet on the website of the Ministère de la Santé and des services sociaux:

Research and text: Diabetes Québec Team of Health Care Professionals.

June 2014