I have two tattoos and I love them both; they have symbolic meaning to me, and even 15 and 16 years after I was inked, I still admire them regularly — no regrets! So I'm one of those people who often advises friends and acquaintances to go for it when they are thinking of making a permanent mark. Usually it is to symbolize a time in their life — a commitment to something, or a new start. 


But what about a tattoo that identifies a medical condition or life-threatening allergy? 


According to the AP, more and more people are turning to permanent skin art to identify serious health problems. Diabetics are a prime example of someone who could become unconscious unexpectedly and have to rely on strangers to assist them. Melissa Boyer, who has Type 1 of the disease, decided to tattoo her condition on her arm, as well as her allergies, after losing countless medical alert bracelets: 


"It's been 29 years that I've had (diabetes), and I went through I-don't-know-how-many bracelets," she said. "I went and got the tattoo, and it made life easier."


One doctor who noticed this new trend is encouraging the medical community to be involved in some kind of standardization, so that medical professionals and others know where to look — and what to look for. Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi has been following this trend online after one of his patients turned up with a tattoo of the symbol usually found on medic alert bracelets and a basic description of his health problem inked on his forearm.

"Like it or not, tattooing for purposes of medical alerts is a phenomenon that is now occurring," Aldasouqi told eNotAlone.com


Diabetes and allergies to medications and other substances aren't the only things people are tattooing. Some others have taken it to the next step to identify other diseases and conditions too. 


ENotAlone.com reports, "At Fatty's Custom Tattooz in Washington, D.C., owner Matthew Jessup said that he himself had carved a lot of health-related tattoos. 'I have done a bio-hazard symbol for a few people with HIV,' he said."


See more examples of the various diabetes tattoos at DiabetesAdvocate.com



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MNN homepage photo: charjtf/Flickr

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Tattoos for ... healthcare?
Skin ink is now being used for more than decorative purposes — and it could even save lives.