Study develops single-use micro-needle patch tattoos with broad application potential

Study develops single-use micro-needle patch tattoos with broad application potential
Study develops single-use micro-needle patch tattoos with broad application potential

In a recent study published in iScienceresearchers have developed a quick, sterile and painless method of tattooing using single-use micro-needle tattoo patches, which can be used for cosmetic and veterinary applications and to store medical information.

Study: Microneedle patch tattoos. Image Credit:


Tattoos have long held cultural and religious significance and have been widely used for decorative and artistic purposes. Tattoos also have medical applications such as cosmetic reconstruction, correcting pigmentation in conditions such as vitiligo, and communicating emergency medical information about chronic or serious health conditions. Veterinary uses for tattoos include identification numbers or symbols on livestock and other animals.

While the technology and inks used in tattoos have improved dramatically, the basic principle is still to deposit pigment into the skin using needles. Traditional tattoo technologies have associated risks such as infection, itching and bleeding from contaminated needles or ink and unsafe application methods.

Microneedle patches have been used as an alternative to injections in biomedical applications. The patches contain micro-needles coated with drugs absorbed via the dermal vasculature. These medical patches are easy to administer, cause very little trauma and do not generate hazardous biological waste. Single-use microneedle patches can provide safe and painless medical, cosmetic, or decorative tattoo options.

About the study

The present study used a carbon dioxide laser cutting machine to create conical cavities in a sheet of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) to form the tattoo design. The microneedles were created using a mixture of tattoo ink and a water-soluble, biocompatible polymer called poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) which dissolves after application, leaving behind the backing of the patch . The tattoos have been tested on rat and pig skin.

Researchers designed tattoos of different shapes, numbers and letters using blue and red visible ink and ultraviolet (UV) fluorescent ink. Tattoos have also been designed for blood type codes and disease labels such as “DT1” for type 1 diabetes.

Additionally, the team developed micro-needle tattoo patches for vaccine delivery, which had two components – one bearing the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and the other bearing information such as year of vaccination – to avoid negative interactions between the ink and the vaccine. Rat models were used to test the immunogenicity of the IPV vaccine delivered by the microneedle patch.

Tattoos sensitive to environmental changes have also been explored. Thermochromic ink was used to design a tattoo that would change color in response to temperature variations. A more complex tattoo bearing a quick response (QR) code has also been designed and tested using various apps that read QR codes.


The results showed that the tattoos were visible for at least a year, with no color distortion and only slight shape distortion due to skin aging. There were no adverse reactions to the procedure and no biohazardous waste was generated. UV tattoos were only visible under UV lighting, which kept the tattoo private.

Immunogenicity testing revealed similar levels of neutralizing antibodies in rat models as intramuscular injections of the same vaccine, signifying the efficacy of a microneedle vaccine. The companion microneedle patch tattoo bearing the year of vaccination was clearly visible for at least a year after vaccination. These combination tattoo-vaccine patches can be especially useful in areas where record-keeping facilities are limited.

The thermochromic ink tattoo changed color when heated above 40°C. These tattoos can monitor temperatures during illness or treatments that cause high body temperatures. Similar environmentally sensitive tattoo patches can be developed for other stimuli of interest, such as pH, enzymes, and glucose, to monitor health conditions.


Overall, the study reports a sterile, painless, and bloodless method of administering tattoos for decorative, cosmetic, and medical purposes. Although the design options have not yet reached the levels of complexity and artistry of traditional tattoos, these micro-needle tattoos can effectively administer simple tattoos, medically informative or cosmetically useful.

The QR tattoos designed in this study have a wide range of potential applications and the ability to carry large amounts of information accessible through various readily available applications. Microneedle patch tattoos can also indicate pet identity and neuter status without causing trauma. Additionally, they can provide vital information about health conditions to emergency responders.

To conclude, the microneedle patch tattoos developed in this study provide access to safe, infection-free, painless, and possibly self-administering tattoos that can be used for decorative, cosmetic, and medical applications.

. study develops tattoos patches microneedles single use with wide potential application

. Study develops singleuse microneedle patch tattoos broad application potential

PREV Needle-free jet injection of novel COVID-19 DNA vaccine shows promise in animal model
NEXT China quarantine bus crash sparks ‘zero COVID’ outcry