Kids' Food Allergy Temporary Tattoos Shouldn't Be a First Line of Defense

Health Check 9

According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), one in 13 children in the United States has a potentially deadly food allergy. That's about two kids in every classroom who can't tolerate a particular food -- usually milk, peanuts, eggs, soy, or wheat -- and reactions can run the spectrum from tummy distress to anaphylactic shock. Lately, parents tasked with raising awareness about their child's health situation are turning to an unconventional solution: temporary tattoos.

Temporary tattoos printed with allergy information are sort of the modern equivalent of a medical bracelet, and brands like SafetyTat are offering stick-on tattoos that can be personalized to indicate a child’s food restrictions. It sounds like a great idea ... except for one major downfall.

For birthday parties, field trips, sleepovers, and other social situations, temporary tattoos are being used as a way to communicate information about a child's dietary restrictions. Some of the older options didn't particularly look like something a kid would want on their arm:

(Seriously, that looks like a warning sign at the zoo. He's a kid who can't have peanuts, not a Gremlin.)

SafetyTat has improved the concept with bright colors, illustrations, and a place to write in an emergency phone number or instructions for what should happen should the child come into contact with an allergen. Their Allergy Alert tattoos are water-resistant and are designed to last for three days.

Like I said, it's a great idea. It's just that, well, I've never encountered a temporary tattoo that my kids couldn't turn into an indecipherable smear within a few hours.

Admittedly, I haven't personally tried this brand of tattoo, so it may be hardier than the usual stick-on designs. SafetyTat does recommend that you strategize the placement for longevity:

Also, if you feel your child might pick or rub his or her SafetyTat, consider applying it on a place on the arm that's out of his/her sight, like the outside of the arm below the elbow. "Out of sight, out of mind!"

Assuming the text stays readable and it isn't stuck somewhere an adult wouldn't immediately spot, these tattoos seem as useful as a medical alert bracelet -- and it's possible a kid would tolerate a stick-on design more than a piece of jewelry.

Still, it seems like this should be used only as a backup plan. I don't have an allergic kid, but I imagine that it's mission-critical to actually inform any parents, teachers, or chaperones about food restrictions rather than counting on the fact that they'll see a tattoo.

What do you think about these food allergy tattoos? Do you think it's reasonable to assume an adult will see it and act accordingly?


Image via SafetyTat

food, allergies

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Histo... HistoryMamaX3

There are some great kid friendly medical warning bracelets that would be far more effective than a tattoo. My worry is that while it serves as a great reminder- this should NOT be the only method. Parents need to communicate the need to the other adults in charge to be certain that they are fully aware.

Melis... Melissa1508

HistoryMama, I agree.  There needs to be parent to parent communication if it's just to a friend's house and if the kid is going off to camp the kid's counselor definitely needs to be aware.  I would probably still do a bracelet or tat in both cases. 

nonmember avatar anonymous

I think it's a great idea-more noticeable than a bracelet, and would look cooler to other kids. Only a moron would assume the tat alone would keep their child safe-of course this would be only a part of the plan. If your child has an allergy you better believe you wouldn't just rely on a piece of jewelry or stickers or a tatoo! You would talk to the adults, and hope the tattoo would serve as a reminder because even adults are only human and forget. It's not meant to be the only protection, any allergy mama knows that!

LadyM... LadyMinni

My mom used to have to put a sticker on my brother's shirt reminding his school about his severe gluten allergy. Never mind that she told them every single day that he was allergic, they still gave him cookies and play-doh, and all manner of things they shouldn't have. Just telling people doesn't always work, sometimes you need a million reminders.

Rootbear Rootbear

My best friend's kid is allergic to peanuts and totally doesn't take it seriously. She will be 6 in September. Having this allergy doesn't stop her from eating whatever, whether its offered to her or not. She won't hesitate to eat a piece of chocolate or a cookie knowing full well what might be in it. It's resulted in several trips to the emerg. and a stern talking to. It's brutal. Damn kid needs a smack.

corri... corrinacs

For the writer of this article:  Really?  Are you a food allergic mom that knows how life goes for us?


I can tell you that i have used these tattoos.  And like the other moms have said in the replies, that would NEVER be my only line of defense.  That would be a very minor squirmish in the grand scheme of things.  But I woudl use them.  Why?


Because my son goes camping, etc.  And not EVERY counselor is going to know about his food allergies.....because there are hundreds of them.  If you use one of these, it immediately alerts them that he needs to be careful around food!  The more they know, the better!


And my son is 5, and I can tell you.....temp tatoos at this age up to like 15 is totally hip.  How do I know.  Because every kid walking in and out of his school has them all over LOL.  They don't care what it is, it a temp tatoo :)

Eileen Tettemer Sneddon

My 11 year-old Type 1 Diabetic daughter uses these tattoos. They wrap around her wrist exactly where you'd wear a medical ID bracelet. She likes them as an alternative to the bracelet.

Chris... Christi_N

I have actually been to the website for these and they have more then just allergy tats. They have ones that you can either write or get printed with your cell phone number on them in case your child gets lost. I actually bought some for my Daughter and they work really well. They didnt fade and the marker that they give you to use to write on the tats dosent rub off. They are water poof and smudge proof, I know it seem impossible. I Think its a great Idea. My mother used to sick 3 pieces of tape on my bare skin on my back and write my info down them, I think the tattoos are a better alternative. 

nonmember avatar Izetta

Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback?

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