Creating Diabetes Tattoos That Sense Changes In Blood Sugar
Its not often that the words cool and diabetes get used in the same sentence, but researchers at MIT and Harvard have joined the two concepts with an idea for creating tattoos that change color based on the blood sugar level of the person wearing them.
The project has the oddly dystopian name of the Dermal Abyss and is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and Harvard Medical School, according to Katia Vega, a post doctoral associate at MIT and a member of the team.
The Dermal Abyss is a proof-of-concept that illustrates the potential of culturally and medically integrated biosensors, Vega says. They are biosensor tattoos that visibly react to changes in the metabolism. The purpose of the work is to light the imagination of biotechnologists and stimulate public support for such efforts.
The tattoos they designed will not be showing up in a pharmacy or tattoo shop any time soon. The purpose of the work is to highlight a novel possibility for biosensors rather than bring a medical device to market, Vega says. As such, there are currently no plans to develop the Dermal Abyss as a product or to pursue clinical trials.
Like a hot concept car, there is real technology in the tattoos that were produced for the project. Various iterations of the tattoos sense changes not only in glucose but in pH, which can indicate dehydration and changes in sodium ion, which can give indications of hypertension.
They Are Kind Of Addictive
This might sound silly to someone who does not have a drop of ink on their body but, truth be told, they are rather addictive. Every now and then, those who consider themselves heavily tattooed will get the itch and begin planning their next one.
There is just so much skin to cover and so many beautiful and cool pieces and ideas to cover it with! It’s an expensive addiction, so be warned.
Motivation Behind Getting Tattoos
Desire to get a tattoo may come from a want to express yourself artistically and decoratively. Or perhaps you want to get a tattoo that is diabetes-related and use it as a means of creating support and awareness.
Some people with diabetes decide to get a tattoo as medical identification. In a medical emergency, medical personnel know that they have diabetes and can act accordingly.
Self-expression: Many people get tattoos that replicate things that have meaning to them, a design, an animal, a quote, a date. Looking at a daily reminder of something you love is a way to express yourself artistically and bring you happiness.
Diabetes awareness and support: You may want to get a tattoo to raise awareness and support for the disease that affects your life daily. Some people with diabetes decide to tattoo the universal symbol for diabetes, which is the blue circle.
Wearing this symbol on your body may help you feel connected to others with diabetes while also raising awareness and support for the fight against the disease. Online, you will find that a blue and gray ribbon with a drop of blood is another symbol designed to raise diabetes awareness. This is also a common type of tattoo that people with diabetes may choose to get.
For example, it may be difficult to identify someone with diabetes by using a tattoo because people do not always get them on a spot that is exposed. This can make it difficult for emergency personal to find it.
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Areas With Impaired Circulation
Its easy to forget that even if your A1c has been under 8 percent for decades, areas of your body inevitably have impaired blood circulation compared to others.
Our hands, feet, ankles, and even your shins are the most common tattooable areas on your body that can easily have poor blood circulation. That means these areas are less ideal for a tattoo simply because they may not heal as quickly or are at a greater risk of infection during the healing process. If you already have diagnosed neuropathy, and youre choosing to get a tattoo despite suggestions that you shouldnt, it would be wise to avoid any of those affected areas.
What Youll Also Feel When Getting A Tattoo Besides Some Pain
Youll feel varying degrees of pain depending on the tattoos placement. But you may also feel other sensations depending on the tattoo, such as a burning sensation thats common as the tattoo needle goes over the same spot several times.
A sharp stinging feeling isnt uncommon during detailing work, especially on areas of the body where the skin is tight . Tattoos that require a lot of shading may cause a scratchy feeling. No matter what sensation you feel, however, all of the physical sensations should hopefully become a dull roar. And thats how you want to feel as you settle into a comfort zone.
Dont hesitate to let your artist know if the pain becomes too much to bear. The good ones will reach a stopping point and allow you to take a break.
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Why Experts Want To Make Managing Diabetes Easier
Like the adherence issues that come with taking insulin and other diabetes medications, all of these upcoming technologies aim to make diabetes management easier by eliminating the pain of finger pricks and injections.
Adherence to chronic disease management is low about 50 percent. Diabetes is no exception, explained Edward Chao, DO, associate clinical professor of medicine at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and physician at VA San Diego Healthcare System.
All types of diabetes require daily care that rests nearly entirely on the patients shoulders especially measuring blood sugar levels several times a day since they easily fluctuate based on food, medication, activity, hormones, and other variables.
Specifically in type 2 diabetes, daily finger pricks are seen not only as costly, but also as an undeniable declaration that a person is officially diabetic. Due to the very slow and gradual onset of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and their associated complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy, a significant degree of denial is part of the obstacle to daily care.
Just like insulin, testing ones blood sugar is often associated with a bad or more severe form of diabetes, explained Christine N. Fallabel, MPH, director of the American Diabetes Associations State Government Affairs and Advocacy department.
Can A Diabetic Get A Tattoo
BySylvia Rolfe;;|;;Submitted On December 29, 2010
No matter what disabilities or disorders you may have, you may decide at one time or another that you would like to have a tattoo. But the first question that comes to mind is can I get a tattoo? And being a diabetic is no different. You may decide you would like to get a tattoo, but be unsure whether or not it is in your best interest to do so.
The short answer is yes, and no. Some diabetics can get tattoos. Part of it depends on how well controlled your diabetes is, and whether or not you have complications as a result of your diabetes.
For example, many diabetics will experience poor circulation in the legs as time goes on. Those who are suffering from this should not get tattoos on their legs. Simply reason being that with the poor circulation, your tattoo will take longer to heal, and may not heal at all, or may get infected due to the delayed time in healing.
Another thing that diabetics need to take into consideration is the fact that with pain, your blood sugar level can drop. And depending on your pain tolerance levels, it could cause a very extreme drop in blood sugar levels and lead to complications related to your diabetes.
In order to ensure the best possible decision, you need to consult with your family physician and a licensed tattoo artist.
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Tattoo Aftercare: How To Keep It Looking Good For Years To Come
How you take care of your new tattoo is crucial. Sloppy aftercare can ruin the look of your tattoo, both now and in the future, and can even lead to health problems. Getting a tattoo doesnt mean walking out of the tattoo shop and assuming that youre good to go. Here are some essential steps you need to take for protecting your new tattoo:
The Pop Factor: How To Make Your Tattoos Jump From Your Skin
A new tattoo should look vibrant and fresh, like a burst of color and design that pops from your skin. How long it continues to look that way depends on a lot of things and aging plays a significant role in your tattoos appearance including how well you maintain it. Weve already talked plenty about tattoo aftercare, but consistent maintenance in the weeks, months, and years after you first get a tattoo is extremely important.
Theres no set timeline for when a tattoo begins to fade because its different for every person. People age at different rates, too; a quick scan of the room at your 20th high school reunion is all the proof you need. But other factors affect your tattoos vibrancy:
- Placement Again, location matters. Tattoos on certain parts of your body will fade faster than on others, such as on your feet, fingers, and lips. Its not surprising that hands are on the fast-fade list given how often we use them each day. Also, the skin on your fingers is thinner than the skin in most other places.
- Ink The inks color and quality also affect your tattoos fade rate. As a general rule, lighter colored ink fades faster than darker ink, especially if it stands alone. The lighter ink in most tattoos is used to highlight darker colors, however.
- Sun Keeping your tattoo protected from the suns UV rays is crucial for it to maintain its vibrancy.
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Why Diabetes Complications May Limit Where You Can Get Body Art
Unfortunately, that level of under 7 is not a hard-and-fast rule. There isn’t a level at which we would say you should absolutely not get a tattoo. Thats why its a wise idea to talk to the doctor who knows you and your diabetes and how you handle it. He or she is better qualified to make an assessment of the safety risk of getting a tattoo or piercing, Ghiloni says. For instance, your A1C may be a 7.6, but your physician may say that youre completely fine to get inked. A1C isnt always the be-all-end-all indicator of diabetes management, she adds.
Also talk to your doctor about any limitations on where you should get a tattoo or piercing. For instance, if you have any neuropathy or circulation issues in your feet or lower legs, your doctor may suggest avoiding this area. Neuropathy may mean you have a loss of sensation, so youre less likely to feel an injury or problem as quickly as you should, Ghiloni explains.
What Are The Risks
Tattoos are permanent body art etched into the skin using electrically driven needles. The needles insert ink into the dermis . When you get a tattoo, the needle punctures break blood vessels. As a protective response, your body produces a natural defense against the injury and can become inflamed and bruise.
Ensuring that the tattoo establishment is licensed and clean is important in mitigating risk. Proper and thorough care of the skin after a tattoo session is also critical in preventing infections. But even with the greatest of care, there is still some risk of having an adverse reaction, which is likely to be higher in people with diabetes, especially those with elevated blood sugar.
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Turning Skin Into Interactive Displays
To be honest: These are still dreams of the future and it will take time to bring Dermal Abyss to market. But what is obvious already is that it is very likely to revolutionize the way diabetics control their condition. After all, they would not need to control their blood glucose levels without having to pierce the skin for a blood sample several times a day any longer:
The Dermal Abyss creates a direct access to the compartments in the body. e imagine the future where the painful procedure is replaced with a tattoo,
the researchers sum up the innovations most striking benefit.
This is how the non-invasive method works: First of all the patients have to get tattooed. Therefore the traditional inks are replaced by glucose-sensitive inks. These are able to sense changes to the bodys interstitial fluid which is the liquid surrounding tissue cells in the body. This means they react, for instance, to sugar in the blood with a colour change and let diabetics know when they need insulin again.
Diabetes & Tattoos What You Need To Know
If you read outdated books on living with diabetes, those of us living with this disease shouldnt even walk around our house barefoot let alone get a tattoo! But these days, people with all types of diabetes are living dangerously by walking barefoot in their own home and even getting tattoos that are about diabetes.
You can absolutely get a tattoo if you live with diabetes, but there are still a few things you need to consider before popping into your local tattoo parlor.
In this post, I will cover everything you need to know about diabetes and tattoos, what it looks like when things go wrong and if doctors and EMTs even trust those diabetes-related medical alert tattoos!
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Tattoo Healing For Diabetics
Having diabetes means you will most likely take longer to recover and your tattoo artist will know this. Dont listen to all your other friends with $19 I Heart Mom tattoos who offer their non-medical, non-professional advice on how to heal your new tattoo. Listen to your tattoo artist.;
While most people take around 2 weeks to optimally heal from a tattoo, diabetics can sometimes be double that. Dont risk your health, money, or tattoo quality by shorting or getting lazy with the healing process. Whether your artist recommends Tegaderm, A&D ointment or anything of the sort, follow their instructions for an extended period of time to be sure your tattoo heals healthily and beautifully.;
Some people will say to not get your feet, hands, or other areas tattooed because of slower healing times especially associated with poor blood circulation but there are quite a few tatted type 1 diabetics who have lower A1Cs with ankle, foot, and practically full body tattoos! If you are currently fighting complications or have poor circulation, it is best to consult your doctor before getting a tattoo so they can help you stay as safe and healthy as possible.
Whether you want a meaningful tattoo, a medical tattoo or just an epic design because you appreciate the art form, T1Ds and;T2Ds with tattoos are not a problem!
How A Tattoo Becomes A Medical Device
The needleless tattoo sensor that measures blood sugar levels through sweat is applied to your skin much like a childs temporary tattoo: You place it on your arm, dab it with a little water to adhere it, and remove the backing.
Designed by researchers from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, Joseph Wang, DSc, department director, and Patrick Mercier, PhD, specialize in the development of wearable sensors.
The tattoo contains two electrodes that actually conduct a safe level of electrical current into the skin.
This forces glucose molecules that reside below the skin to rise to the surface, allowing us to measure blood sugar. Its safe and you cant really feel it, explained Mercier, an assistant professor in the schools Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
There are several needleless blood sugarsensing patch technologies in various stages of development and some even in human trials, one in particular that also uses electrodes. But the tattoo aspect of this design is in a category of its own.
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Tattoos And Body Piercings: A Guide For People With Diabetes
The best way to know if its safe for you to get a tattoo with diabetes is to see your doctor or healthcare provider. They can review your numbers, draw your A1C, and determine if your diabetes is controlled. If your diabetes is not well controlled, or if your blood pressure is elevated, you should take measures to get both within range prior to getting a tattoo.
After you are evaluated by the healthcare provider and they confirm that your diabetes is under control,you will be given clearance to get a tattoo or a piercing. It will also be a good idea to have the doctor write a note, or even a prescription, in attention of the tattoo parlor or piercing clinic that will be performing the procedure. Normally, a tattoo or piercing establishment will take the word of the client, and the forms that you fill out there should have a question about diabetes, and whether its controlled.
Your response should be honest on the form, and if your diabetes is not well-controlled, lying about it could be to your peril. The question is on the form for your own safety, Understand that it is imperative that your diabetes must be controlled, along with your blood pressure, prior to obtaining a piercing or tattoo with diabetes.
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