Temporary Tattoo Medical Alerts for Seniors

Temporary Tattoo Medical Alerts for Seniors

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 30, 2019


Some serious, but ultimately short-term, medical conditions may warrant an investment in expensive monitoring and tracking systems. Traditional bracelets and pendants can aid in your recovery by granting you added peace of mind, but once you’re fully recovered, you may be left wondering what to do with all those batteries.

Consider temporary tattoos that you can wear for three to seven days. These types of alerts let medical providers know just what symptoms you are battling in the short-term.

Temporary Tattoo Overview

Temporary tattoos are a thing from your childhood, right? Maybe you apply a cheeky one now and then with your grandkids, but did you know there are a growing number of folks who are using them again as a means to alert first responders to a temporary condition or set of symptoms? These stylistic representations are great if you are going through a short-term recovery or are simply experiencing the onset of normal memory loss.

This new use for a seemingly silly staple of childhood is gaining popularity due in part to the fact that they are FDA-approved, non-toxic and waterproof. One key advantage, besides the temporary nature of the information, might also be that placement can be routinely changed depending on the season, or whether you are traveling to a warmer or colder climate. The adaptability of a temporary tattoo simply adds to its appeal.

Advantages of Temporary Tattoos in Medical Alerts

Besides the fleeting nature of this medical alert option, there are serious medical and monetary advantages to donning a temporary tattoo to alert first responders, family or friends that you have a new condition that requires extra special attention. 

  • Bypass complications:  Permanent tattoos carry a very real risk of contracting the hepatitis C virus, lupus or other infectious diseases. Additionally, you might be allergic to the ink or be at increased risk of ink molecule migration based on the artist you decide to use. That said, the tattoo industry is largely unregulated and places the burden of any legal retaliation on the consumer.
  • Cost:  While a more traditional medical alert system averages $30 per month and permanent tattoos can exceed $150, temporary tattoos have far less buyer’s remorse. A custom-designed pack of 100 tattoos costs $70 on average, or 70cents for peace of mind that lasts three to seven days.
  • Impermanent:  Again, the temporary nature of these markings allows the user to not only modify what the design says or is intended to say to the first responder, but also allows for relocation or multiple placement on one’s body. This is useful, especially if the condition is in remission or the symptoms are waning.
Disadvantages of Temporary Medical Alert Tattoos
  • No medical standard:  As with real tattoos, there is no medical standard on which to base one’s design or placement for this type of skin-based medical alert. While most first responders look to one’s wrist should they come upon an older person who is incapacitated or unconscious, they may miss a temporary tattoo placed on the back of a hand. Additionally, medical personnel are not trained to look for tattoos, and may miss vital information that could just as easily be conveyed by a more common bracelet or wristband.
  • Designs:  The caduceus medical alert symbol used in both permanent and temporary tattoos may be universally accepted and understood, but it can be too generic without a follow-on description of your condition. That said, the time it takes to interpret a tattoo, even temporary, might be time you do not have.
Enhancement Options for Temporary Medical Alert Tattoos
  • Trial run for the real deal:  Perhaps your condition is more serious or may become chronic, but you are unsure what to get permanently inked on your wrist or chest. Paying as little as 50cents for a little alert might be just what you need in order to finish your design and find the most reputable artist you can within your geographic reason.
  • Technology:  Some of the latest and most advanced permanent tattoo ink technology is being tested as we speak.So, you might want to hold off on the more traditional metal-based coloring in favor of color-changing patterns that could alert you to the need to seek medical assistance. Using a temporary tattoo in the meantime, however, ensures you’re still covered (literally!).
Cost Consideration Associated with Temporary Medical Alert Tattoos

As previously mentioned, temporary tattoos are extremely inexpensive and range in price from 50 to 70cents. Buying custom tattoos in bulk further reduces their price per item, and with a life span of up to a week, there is little worry that you will run out quickly. This cost pales in comparison to a real tattoo, which can cost upwards of $100 and carry with it buyer’s remorse or worse.

There is no risk for infection, hepatitis C transmission or other serious autoimmune disease, as may be the case with more permanent markings. Postage may be one cost to factor in over the long haul, but when put up against serious medical complications from real tattoos, this is a cost that might be worth stomaching.

Additional Considerations for Temporary Medical Alert Tattoos

Temporary tattoos might strike you as childish at your age, but not when you consider their ability to carry critical medical information in a way that is easy to convey to the outside world. What’s more, temporary medical tattoos are FDA-approved and carry none of the common risks associated with getting permanent ink.

Having only temporary symptoms while recovering from surgery or cancer treatments could still leave you at risk of infection or fall, but using this simple water-based marking could mean your care team can more quickly assess you and get you the care you need. The cost isn’t bad, either.One of these custom-made stamps may not only do wonders for your bank account, but your peace of mind as well.

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.