Color-changing tattoo shows blood glucose level

I don’t know how that would work… Pigments are taken up by skin macrophages, so you’d just be monitoring what the conditions are in the lysosome or whatever…

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I see this as something that shows you ballpark guide. As such it would be augmented by a fingerprint test for an accurate measure. I wouldn’t expect an EMT to use this as any sort of diagnostic tool so it wouldn’t matter where on your body you got it as long as you can see it.
Love the idea though and I would go and get one today if it was available. Would certainly make for even better Glucose control.

OT, but applause is warranted for your username. Welcome to BB.


I don’t think prosthetic knees would help your blood glucose levels much. Oh wait…

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Test for a mix of adrenaline and testosterone?



a 1 cubit ruler would always be right :slight_smile:


well… That depends…


next you’re going to tell me a foot is no longer the length of ones foot. kids these days and their standardized measurement systems.

There are so many bad jokes you could make with a ruler tattoo…


“i’m your ruler”
“oh this? that’s my small ruler tattoo.”
“even this ruler couldn’t make me straight” or “i’m so straight i’m a ruler”
“my teachers said i’d never measure up”
“have you heard the joke about the thirteen inch ruler? never mind, it’s too long.”

really the bad jokes are endless…
but i’ll spare you. :clown_face:


Good thing I didn’t need help regulating my glucose. Walking, skiing, things like that, now – those were a problem. Have I mentioned that I love the titanium knee?

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Wow. An ancient arms race!

On the contrary, in the field it would be awesome. I’m a ski patroller, and unlike in a hospital I can’t just start an IV and push glucose on the off-chance that the AMS [1] patient is hypoglycemic (along with anoxia, drugs, stroke, etc.) when I see them. The rule is to give glucose if you don’t know for sure otherwise because the symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are remarkably similar, except that more sugar to a hyperglycemic or normal patient is no big deal that can be dealt with later, for a hypoglycemic patient immediate glucose can be the difference between life and death.

So – a tattoo that tells me “yes, this patient is diabetic” all by itself is great, and one that tells me that the glucose is at least normal reduces the urgency of checking it more precisely. That way I can get on to using a pulse oximeter instead of a glucometer (because I’m not a full team like a hospital might have.)

My job in the field is choosing between a very limited set of tools:

  • Sugar
  • Oxygen
  • Aspirin
  • Immediate transport

If I give someone glucose (easy if responsive, sugary drinks do it. Not so much if not responsive) and they immediately perk up then we can probably skip the transport altogether. More or less the same with oxygen. Otherwise it’s GTFO time, stat; the aspirin will be under direction of medical control but seconds are brain cells.

[1] Altered Mental Status


So something like a ring around the changing pigment in various colors, varying from too low through just right and too high.


I wonder if they can similarly formulate a pigment that reacts to cortisol, so you can check yourself before you wreck yourself. Demonstrate to your boss that the job is killing you. Show the wife why her mother shouldn’t come over. Let people know they should back off when My Little Pony on your neck turns red.

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South of the Mason-Dixon, diabetes is epidemiologically third to opiates and meth. North Georgia is home to some of the ugliest jailhouse tattoos on the planet: only question here is how badly our residents can wreck therapeutic tats. Are the therapeutic varieties allergenic?

And yes, my titanium-augmented ankle is wonderful, wish I had two. I recommend titanium bones, joints, repairs without reservations.

They only tested it on pork skin samples to who knows. Also the paper doesn’t have a proper methods section so I haven’t been able to find where they say how they changed the levels of chemicals in the skin samples.

It’s a great idea though. I hope it still works when it’s tested on live animals.

Here is the actual article in case anyone is interested. It doesn’t look like it’s open access I’m afraid. But the abstract should be open at least.

Yetisen et al. (2019) Dermal Tattoo Biosensors for Colorimetric Metabolite Detection. Angewandte Chemie 58:31, 10506-10513.

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