Temporary Tattoo Monitors Blood Glucose Levels

Wow, this gives new meaning to what a tattoo is!

Do you really think this could be the wave of the future?

This sure would make things much less complicated!

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego, have developed and tested a tiny stick-on temporary tattoo that painlessly extracts glucose and monitors its levels in the body. It works by gently drawing glucose from between cells to the surface of the skin where it can then be measured by in-built sensors. Not only is the gadget non-invasive and discreet, it’s extremely cheap—costing just a few cents—and works just as well as the dreaded finger prick tests.

Although it’s just at a proof-of-concept stage, it’s hoped that one day it could be used to replace painful daily blood sampling, and could even be adapted to test other medically important molecules or deliver medicines.


As described in Analytical Chemistry, the aesthetically pleasing gadget comprises tiny electrodes printed onto temporary tattoo paper, which can then be adhered to a user’s skin. Each flexible device lasts for around a day, and once again senses glucose levels using glucose oxidase. The tattoo was tested out on seven volunteers between the ages of 20 and 40 with no history of diabetes. During initial trials, none of the participants reported feeling any discomfort, although some reported tingling for a few seconds.

UCSD/Jacobs School of Engineering

To investigate whether it could successfully pick up changes in glucose levels, volunteers were given a carb rich meal consisting of a sandwich and a can of soda. Sure enough, the device was found to pick up glucose spikes just as well as traditional monitoring methods.

At this stage, the proof-of-concept tattoo can’t provide a numerical readout that would be required to monitor a diabetic’s glucose levels; however, the researchers are working towards developing a Bluetooth instrument that would be able to send this information either to the patient’s doctor or to another device.

[Via Analytical Chemistry, UCSD, Gizmodo and Science Alert]


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