Good tattoo warns of diseases and hides scars

Sometimes it is a birthmark, sometimes it is a scar and sometimes it is a drawing that represents an affection or an emotion. The marks on the skin are diverse and bring stories of a lifetime.

Colored or black, the ink is deposited between the layers of the skin. But, in the cases that are reported throughout the text, it can be between the layers of the soul.

Tattoos that bring alerts about allergies, intolerances, illnesses or that cover scars are given a very significant name: good tattoos. An action that registers on the skin the condition that already accompanies the routine of those who live it.


What are good tattoos?

Determining the start of this campaign is somewhat uncertain, but the first initiatives registered were in the United States, beginning in 2006, in which professionals began to offer tattoos on diseases at reduced prices.

There was also the case of David Allen, a tattoo artist who transformed the body of mastectomized patients into works of art, being one of the precursors and promoters of other similar projects.

A few years ago movements of tattoo artists emerged that reconstructed the halos of mastectomized women. The repercussion was such that today there is a platform called to gather tattoo artists specialized in tattoos after mastectomy or breast surgery and connect them to patients.

The initiatives, perhaps, have been inspirations for other movements that have spread across the world and that, now, are beginning to ascend, spreading traces and colors of affection.

These initiatives motivate the participation of several independent studios and tattoo artists, who help to make the world a little more colorful – even if the tattoo is only black.

The initiative to combine the art of doodling the skin with the desire to help someone gave birth to the national campaign “Tattoo do Bem”, which promotes tattoos involving drawings or phrases warning about the presence of allergies, intolerances or diseases, covering scars or marks on the skin. skin .

For some people, having health problems like diabetes or severe allergies can still be a difficult condition to deal with.

Dozens of patients report that they still prefer not to talk about illnesses, either because of the difficulty in accepting it, or because of the reaction of other people. Feeling sorry or embarrassed at the other’s conditions can be quite harmful.

When alert tattoos started to gain visibility, people with different diseases entered the project. It is worth remembering that each project serves different audiences and the purpose of the campaigns is, in general, to warn about conditions that could put the patient’s life at risk.

Among the tattooed alerts, the use of anticoagulants are drugs, epilepsy , the HIV , Alzheimer’s and hepatitis C .

Why get a medical alert tattoo?

The motivations are varied, but generally involve a demonstration of good coexistence with the disease or allergy , in addition to care in cases of emergency.

It is best to never need to use it as a warning to the doctor, but wonder if the patient with a severe allergy is hospitalized unconscious?

Even before the team makes a blood collection, the tattoo on the arm warning about the sensitivity can prevent a series of complications.

And since the disease cannot be escaped, why not live with it in an artistic way?

That’s what Sofia Azevedo and Giovani Marchalek did. They don’t know each other, but they carry the symbol of a shared routine in their arms: type 1 diabetes.

Sofia discovered diabetes 13 years ago. The tattoo is more recent, done in the very end of 2016. The desire to make the drawing came from precaution, because in an emergency it would be much faster to identify the disease.

Without forgetting the aesthetics, Sofia gave a very personal touch to the drawing, showing that care and beauty are aligned. In fact, painted on his arm.

Precautions are important measures for patients with diabetes, as a few minutes can be instrumental in preventing a hypoglycemia from worsening severely. Sofia never had to use the emergency tattoo function, but now the 3 – patient, tattoo and treatment – walk together.

The designs and campaigns that offer alert tattoos are still recent, but they have become popular. So much so that Sofia had already heard of the proposal, but only after a while did she make her own in São Paulo.

It was also the case of Giovani, 39, who decided to combine the useful with the pleasant, as he himself defines, as the taste for art joined diabetes, which has been with him for 30 years.

Having a drawing or a reference to the disease arouses people’s curiosity. In addition to the health alert, it is a way to demystify diabetes, as it is still covered with many dilemmas and prejudices.

Even though type 1 diabetes is much more common in children and young people due to their own body conditions, many people continue to associate the disease with age and sugar consumption. But in fact, type 1 is an autoimmune condition.

It is also common for people, in general, to maintain a somewhat inadequate idea that diabetes is a catastrophic and disabling diagnosis.

Usually it is these people who are most shocked when they perceive the young and healthy arms and wrists marked by the symbol of the disease.

But this view that diabetes is a disease of the elderly is being altered, thanks to the patients themselves.

One of the evidences that the approach and the way that the diabetes carrier perceives itself has changed is that there are several groups in social networks and applications that bring together patients with the disease to facilitate interaction, information and the breaking of prejudices. Many of the participants are young, under the age of 30, and several have a tattoo.

But it is not only the tattooed people who carry good stories, after all, whoever makes the drawing on the skin of others is also a little marked.

Tattoo to help control blood glucose

Tattooing the diabetes symbol can help in times of emergency, but have you ever wondered if a simple design – such as a small circle of the pulse – could alert you to blood glucose levels and, therefore, be an aid in controlling the disease?

That’s what researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard can offer society in no time. The so-called biosensory tattoo is made with a special ink, with chemical components that change color according to the glycemia rate.

In addition to blood glucose, they can be useful for detecting changes in sodium and blood pH, indicating dehydration or changes in blood.

Diabetes patients need to make several finger pricks during the day to measure blood glucose levels. Thus, the tattoo constantly monitors the values ​​and prevents the glycemic test through the meter from having to be done.

But the patient will not be able to choose many colors, since to detect glucose values, the biosensors change from blue to brown if there is hyperglycemia (indicating that the person needs insulin).

If there are changes in pH, the design will change from purple to pink and the sodium biosensory tattoo needs to be illuminated by a black light, causing it to emit more or less vibrant green tones, according to the concentration of salt in the blood. .

The novelty is still in the research phase, but it promises to be a more charming aid in the treatment and monitoring of diseases.

Who can get a good tattoo?

Just type in the hashtag #tattoodobem on a social network to discover dozens of works and initiatives that reinforce affectivity.

The target audience is varied, including patients with diseases or allergies, women who are victims of breast cancer , people who have undergone surgery, women who have suffered physical violence or who have self-mutilation scars.

Each tattoo artist spends his time attending to a cause. Learn more about some options:

Women who have had breast cancer surgery

The cancer breast is a disease which touches the patient and people nearby. The intensity of the situation often compromises the routine, even after the disease is stabilized or treated.

And it is not always just the physical state that is affected, as emotional conditions are also weakened. Self- esteem , the way of perceiving and dealing with life can be impacted.

However, inspiring stories are certainly carried by patients in memory. They carry in their eyes and, sometimes, on their skin, memories – not of the disease, but of overcoming.

For patients who have undergone surgery, the good tattoo aims to cover the scar. Whether to add a good memory to the resistance brand, or to forget the difficult moments a little, the drawings become a trace of the soul.

Women who underwent mastectomy

In some cases, it is necessary for the cancer patient to remove the breast to prevent the disease from getting worse. The procedure is called a mastectomy and, generally, the emotional impact tends to be greater.

Then, through a simple design – but of immeasurable value – the woman’s self-esteem is restored: a small circle in the appropriate tone of the patient’s skin, in the chest region. A designed halo comes along with a heart-shaped tattoo.

Micropigmentation hardly hurts, as the area tends to be less sensitive due to mastectomy. The procedure takes about 30 to 40 minutes and results in a small circle of the breast region. Although simple, the design has an immeasurable meaning.


Tattoos that alert about sensitivity need to be easy to read and in a visible place. In fact, this is the only way to put the allergy-causing substance on patients’ skin.

Allergies to AAS, anti-inflammatories, penicillin, food or insects are some tattooed warnings that can save lives or reduce risks in emergency care.


Diabetes and low blood pressure, when well monitored and treated, do not prevent the patient from having a good quality of life. But it is not always possible to avoid emergencies.

Sometimes a simple tattoo or tattooed alert can facilitate the identification of causes during an emergency, such as during a hypoglycemia (drop in blood sugar).

Even though the control is very strict, all patients with diabetes are susceptible to a drastic drop in blood glucose. However, the condition is not always easy to be recognized by those who do not know the disease.

Because hypoglycemia needs different procedures than common fainting, a tattoo can prevent complications such as seizures and even a coma.


The topic is still very sensitive and involves a high emotional charge. The pains and anguishes of life are sometimes marked on the skin. Cover tattoos are sewn to the skin sometimes to erase the pain, sometimes to remember the resistance.

A few years ago, there was the popularization of the tattoo of; (semicolon). The signal was made to mark a stage of recovery after the suicide attempt. The choice of semicolons refers to the notion of pause and restart.

There is a tendency for people who mutilate themselves to injure their arms, around the wrists or forearms. As the marks and scars are, in general, quite exposed for others and for the patient, the drawings try to soften the memories.

How to choose the tattoo?

If you have scars or have allergies or illnesses that you want to mark on your skin, it is important to talk to your doctor before deciding to invest in the design.

After everything is settled, it’s time to talk to the tattoo artist. Together, you will choose the art and evaluate the possibilities, especially if it is the covering of a scar.

The indications and suggestions will be given by the professional, who needs to adapt the design to the brand of the body (in cases of scarring).

There are numerous catalogs of tattoo meanings, which comprise the most diverse designs. You can find a reference you like, have a drawing you want to make due to the meaning or ask the professional to make an exclusive art.

In addition, seek to know the professional’s work to see if the style and trait are suitable for what you want.

How is it done?

It is enough for the tattoo artist to start some work and a good part of the people already understand what it is about: a skin being scrawled. If you’ve ever had a tattoo or been to a studio, you know that the machine’s noise is quite recognizable.

Our skin is composed of 3 layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis, going from the most external to the most internal. When the microneedles loaded with paint penetrate the most superficial layer (epidermis) about 2 millimeters, the ink is deposited in the dermis, which is the middle layer.

It is necessary that the ink be accommodated in this part of the medium, as the cells of the dermis do not undergo renewal. If the tattoo were done on the outermost layer, it would be quickly erased, almost like a pen drawing.

The needles make small lesions and the body starts an inflammatory process so that it is possible to heal the region.

That is, the cells of the immune system (white blood cells) will mobilize and act on the wound. To provide protection, the cells encompass the ink particles to try to fight inflammation.

However, these particles are too large to be eliminated by the defense cells (which are called macrophages).

The result is that the ink ends up being absorbed by special cells called fibroblasts that are stopped in the region where the tattoo was made. That is, the ink is eternalized below the epidermis.

Does tattoo hurt?

Pain sensitivity is different for each person. Certainly you know someone who found the session quite painful and another who left the studio planning a close comeback. Maybe even you are one of those people.

Determining how much pain a person will experience is difficult, but there is a certain indication of where the tattoos hurt the most.

Face, groin, ankle, rib, inner part of legs and arms, hands and feet tend to be regions that are more painful due to the thickness of the skin or by vascularization (number of blood vessels in the region).

Although the sinus region is painful, the reconstruction of the areola or designs after mastectomy are less painful because the region suffers a loss or reduction of sensation due to the surgery.

What are the risks?

The risks of the tattoo involve infection at the site, contamination by hepatitis B and C, HIV or other contagious diseases, allergic reaction to paints or other substances.

That is why it is important to choose a responsible professional , who is attentive to the quality of products, sterilization and disposal of materials.

You also need to take care of the hygiene after getting the tattoo, cleaning and protecting the region properly.

If you are allergic to various substances, talk to your doctor and the tattoo artist about the inks that are used. Some may contain iron, aluminum, manganese and cadmium, which are capable of triggering allergic reactions.

In people who are allergic to dyes, such as those used in food or clothing, there may be an allergic reaction to the tattoo ink. It is possible to ask the tattoo artist to do a test before the session.

Although some cases take days or months to manifest the reaction, the procedure can prevent immediate reactions. But if there are no direct allergies to the component of paints or latex, for example, the cases in which reactions occur are usually infrequent or severe, being controlled with the use of antiallergens.

Few pictures seriously compromise the patient’s skin, but in these cases it may be necessary to remove the drawing with the laser removal technique.

Diabetes patients should talk to their doctors before performing the procedure. If blood glucose is well controlled, most patients get a tattoo and have no skin changes during healing.

But care is necessary because diabetes can hinder healing and promote infection of the site. However, if proper precautions and recommended measures are taken, the procedure in patients with diabetes poses the same risks as in people without the disease.

Care for first (or next) tattoos

Care is always recommended by the tattoo artist or tattoo artist who will do the job. However, some tips can assist in care and healing.

Generally, women may be more sensitive to pain in the days around the menstrual period. Either a few days before or a few days later can accentuate the discomfort, so if you are afraid of the pain, prefer to book on other dates.

Prepare your skin for the tattoo using moisturizers the week before the tattoo. In addition to making the skin more beautiful, it will deal better with the injuries caused by the needle.

Sun care is also essential. It is recommended that you do not sunbathe for a few days after getting the tattoo and, preferably, avoid sun exposure in the days before the session.

For those who have scars, even without having a tattoo, it is important to remember to use sunscreen frequently, as the sun can affect the skin, producing an altered pigmentation of the healed region, showing even more the marks.

And after getting a tattoo, the use of sunscreen in the region should be intensified to prevent the drawing from fading.

If you get the tattoo with the skin burnt or tanned by the sun, it may be that the result of the design is affected, because after sunbathing, the fabric may peel off.

Food care is also essential, so drink plenty of fluids and in the days around the tattoo (before and after). Prefer lighter, low-fat foods and avoid alcohol consumption.

So your design will be more beautiful and the healing will be faster.

The art of those who draw

The Bronco Tattoo studio , in Curitiba, serves different styles. When the customer arrives, in a few hours, phrases, dragons, silhouettes or an infinite number of other possibilities are immortalized in his skin.

And Tamy Antunes, who has already sketched intense lines and colors, scribbled flowers and characters over the 2 years she has worked as a tattoo artist, also creates stories of affection.

Since the beginning of 2018, when she joined the chain of Tattoo do Bem, the tattoo artist donates some of her talent to pigment stories.

Initially, the project was a partnership with a studio in São Paulo for Women’s Day, which aimed to serve customers with scars and offer a new meaning to their brands. But the demand was so great, causing something to arouse the need for Tamy to continue with the initiative.

The project “Shall we resignify scars?” it exclusively serves women victims of domestic violence and self-mutilation, making the signs of a life better memories.

The emergence and impact of projects like this makes Tamy – and other professionals – help to outline an endless number of stories of struggle, recovery and resistance. It also makes clients carry an initiative of affection on their skins.

Although, for ethical and professional reasons, the tattoo artist does not get involved or question about the clients’ scars – after all, everything that permeates that skin, certainly, has great intimate and sensitive relationships – with each drawing done, a piece of the patient’s trajectory is left in the studio as well.

Even without knowing anything about who gets a tattoo, the result is: a skin record for life and a project that moves.

Sometimes the desire is to cover, sometimes the desire is to make the marks a symbol of resistance. No matter what the purpose, there is certainly an exciting story mixed with the inks, the line, the colors of the tattoo.

For Tamy, the project, which is still little known, has immense impacts on the client’s self-esteem, recognition and belonging. This is because covering the skin with the chosen colors gives the client an alternative way of dealing with everything that is not always possible to choose.

The prices for the campaign are reduced – only the value of the material is charged or not – and each professional attends according to their determinations. There are those who participate in events or stipulate periods to specifically serve these clients, there are also those who maintain a continuous flow of special tattoos.

Tamy, for example, works with service throughout the year. To know the work that enchants and inspires, you can contact the tattoo artist directly.

The skin that touches is also touched. It is marked.

The evolution of tattoo

The photo above, from 1907, shows Maud Stevens Wagner, who was born in 1877 and was a contortionist and acrobat. The image reveals that covering the body with tattoos is not so recent.

In addition to carrying several drawings, Maud learned the hand-poked technique , which did not use the tattoo machine, and became known as the first woman to become a tattoo artist in the United States.

Marking the skin is a way of outlining its own expression, bringing a story to the body that was not always chosen to live, but it was chosen to show the world. But it was not always like that, because the drawings eternalized on the skin have already had different functions and meanings.

It is not known exactly why, but marking the body seems to be quite attractive to humans since ancient times.

Whether related to cultural traditions, worship of gods or rituals, having the body marked by ink is a way of recording individual and social history.

There are indications that the first tattoo was made about 3500 years ago. This is because mummies of Egyptian women were found with their abdomen marked by lines and inscriptions. The motivations are not known exactly, but it is believed that they are linked to the belief that the skin could lose color over time, so it was necessary to paint it and touch it up.

After that, drawings on the skin have already taken on different uses, involving religious cults, separation of social groups, camouflage and even the marking of prisoners and slaves, as occurred in Rome, at the time between 509 BC and 27 BC

Over time, indigenous peoples, Egyptians, Africans, sailors, prisoners, rockers and young rebels of the 1970s experimented, employed and attributed various collective (and individual) meanings to the action of adorning the body.

There was a time when the tattoo was considered inappropriate by Christianity, being forbidden to society. It was only in 1769 that drawings returned to gain space, when James Cook went to Polynesia and discovered that women and men painted and decorated the bodies.

Despite not being accepted in all religious groups, the drawings do not create as much controversy in the medium. An example of this was Pope Francis who, in March 2018, was asked about tattoos and said that society (and religious groups) should not be afraid, as they are part of belonging (to groups, to times, to choices) .

It was in 1891, with the invention of the electric tattoo machine, that the work spread even more in Europe and the USA, until it conquered a status of individuality, rebellion, demonstration of affection, belonging, aesthetics or any other meaning that the tattooed wanted assign to it.

The human being, even if he participates in a culture, also wants to trace his perception of the world. The tattoo, in this sense, is unique.

The lines and colors fill the skin of the tattooed. Whether small or large, scattered, unique or mixed with other designs, tattoos have decorated people’s bodies over the centuries.

But amid the constant noise of the tattoo machines, between the intense colors and the varied styles, initiatives appear that mark the skin, mark life.

Although, in general, tattoos have some very special value to the person, there are initiatives capable of giving even more meaning to the design.

Campaigns such as Tatuagem do Bem involve professionals who want to donate a little talent, art, time in favor of a cause that prevents emergencies or contributes to self-esteem.

Tattooing is an action that has walked with society for centuries and constantly gains new interpretations, new uses, new ways of being signified. Now, it also gains new traits: lines of affection, of solidarity. Between tattoo artists and clients, unique experiences are outlined.