Specific concerns

Specific concerns

In all circumstances it is very important to find out about all the possible risks and complications involved in getting the tattoo or piercing you want. If you also have to factor in having diabetes, however, there are a few added complications that you should think about:

  • Mouth and tongue piercings can be quite painful for the first few weeks, and this might put you off eating. It’s important that you still take your insulin and drink sugary drinks if you can’t eat.
    • You should always rinse your mouth out after drinking, as the sugar is a good source of energy for bacteria too. Check your blood glucose regularly, and inspect the site of your piercing for any signs of infection.
    • Be aware that mouth and tongue piercings can damage your teeth and gums. Make a dental appointment so that your dentist can give you detailed aftercare instructions.
  • Genital piercings can be further complicated by high blood glucose, as this will leave your body through the urine, which these piercings could be exposed to. If you have to urinate more often it can make this type of piercing take longer to heal and to have a higher risk of infection.
  • When deciding where on your body to get a tattoo, keep your diabetes in mind. It’s not a good idea to inject on a tattoo site, as there might be scar tissue beneath the skin that will interfere with the absorption of your insulin.
    • You might also want to avoid areas with poor circulation, such as your feet, ankles and shins. These can take longer to heal, which means they’re more likely to get infected.

This table provides a quick summary of the most frequent piercing sites, along with their normal healing time and any possible issues they might cause. Bear in mind that the healing time is for people without diabetes, so it might take a bit longer for you to heal.

Area Healing time Possible problems
Ear lobe

Ear cartilage

6–8 weeks

3–6 months

Risk of infection



 2–6 months Disinfecting before the piercing and keeping the area clean afterwards may be difficult due to the wet surfaces on the inside of the nose, which may make infection a risk.





Swelling for approximately 2 weeks after piercing All mouth jewellery is subject to plaque build-up; thorough aftercare using denture cleaner is essential. The British Dental Association recommends dental appointments for detailed aftercare instructions.

Risk of severing large blood vessels.

Damage to the nerve tissue which can cause long-term numbness.

Difficulty eating.

Eyebrow 2–4 months Risk of nerve damage beneath the eyebrow.

Neck, Chin, Forearm, Wrist

Damage to nerves and blood vessels.
Navel Varies, may take up to 1 year. Risk of infection.
Nipple 4–8 months Risk of infection.



Depends on area.

2 weeks to 6 months

2 months to over 1 year

Increased risk of infection and delayed healing from body excretions.


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