Crohn's Disease-Inspired Tattoos
Heart on Your Sleeve
Thanks to everyone who submitted a photo of their tattoo and the inspiration behind it. Getting inked can be a powerful reminder that you’re stronger than your condition, and a great way to raise awareness.
Click through the slideshow to get inspired by people with Crohn’s who aren’t afraid to let the world know they’re survivors.
Strength Through Family
My tattoos mean love, family, strength, and courage, with the Crohn's awareness ribbon. These four things symbolize my journey. My brother, sister, and father have matching love, family, and strength, and Crohn's awareness ribbon tattoos. I added the courage symbol and ribbon after the first part of my colectomy surgery.
I am 21 years old and have been battling this disease since I was 16. This tattoo helps me appreciate the struggles in life that make me better and those that help me fight through it.
I got my Crohn's tattoo for my daughter, Ariel McCollum. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2011.
The dragonfly is for new beginnings, and the ribbon is formed in the shape of a heart for my love for her. The spiral at the ribbon’s end is for intestines, because Ariel has an ileostomy.
I got my tattoo after my temporary ileostomy turned into my permanent colostomy. I spent 22 days in the hospital due to complications from surgery and a MRSA infection. I had lots of visitors, and they all asked me how I dealt with it and stayed so positive. My response was: shit happens, so I deal with it.
Stronger and More Appreciative
I was diagnosed in January 2012 and I feel like I've been in a flare since. I finally decided on getting a tattoo with the Crohn’s ribbon and a heart.
My colitis plays a huge part in my life, but has made me a stronger person and made me appreciate life more.
Fighting Back with Humor
I'm 25 years old and I've been battling Crohn’s since I was 11. In 2011, I had surgery and now have an ileostomy.
I really wanted a tattoo of a purple ribbon with the word "survivor" to show my fight with Crohn’s, but that wasn't enough for me. I've always been known as a joker, so the black outline behind the ribbon is my ostomy bag. My tattoo suits me perfectly!
I got this tattoo for my 18th birthday (I’m 19 now). I was diagnosed at 15, after years of being told it was in my head.
This tattoo shows that we need a cure and I want to help spread awareness by showing it off!
Empowered by Music
I‘ve suffered from IBD for nine years—first severe ulcerative colitis and now Crohn’s—even after having a total colectomy. It was very hard to come to terms with my chronic illness at such a young age, and music has helped me through the hard times.
I chose to pair the Crohn’s awareness ribbon with lyrics by my favorite band, My Chemical Romance. It symbolizes that the worst is over and I know I’m strong enough to overcome anything life throws at me.
Bag of Honor
This is my Crohn's and ileostomy awareness/inspired tattoo. I had it done on the one-year anniversary of my ileostomy surgery. I chose to use a colon in the design because I no longer physically have one. My ileostomy is permanent, and I wear my 'bag' with pride.
A Mother’s Wisdom
My tattoo is a constant reminder that "this too shall pass." My Mom used to say that to me when I was growing up and faced with tough times. I put it on my foot so it would be in a place I could always see. When I’m sick from Crohn's or feeling like I can't take anymore, my tattoo reminds me that I will get through it.
Help Through Hope
I was diagnosed with Crohn's in 2010 when I was 16. I received my first Crohn's-inspired tattoo for my 18th birthday. I’m 19 now.
I thought about what I was going to get for two years, and drew this design myself. There are many reasons I got this tattoo, but the main reason is hope. I want myself to remember that there will always be hope, and I’m not alone in this battle.
Starting the Conversation
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in the spring of 2009. I had a temporary ileostomy for a few months in 2012, then got a connected J-pouch. I’m still struggling with symptoms and treatment.
After being diagnosed, it became obvious to me that people are so unaware of IBD, or at least in the dark about how intense our struggles can be. I got my tattoo on my forearm as a conversation starter. It’s a semicolon to represent my J-pouch, or my "semi-colon.”
When someone asks what it means, I never shy away from telling my story. It’s much easier than trying to inject awareness randomly.
—Lisa A. Polley
This Too Shall Pass
I was diagnosed with indeterminate colitis/probable Crohn's in 2010, about six months after the deaths of my mother and a favorite uncle. I felt lost and overwhelmed having gone through so much pain and feeling so very scared without my greatest support system, my mother, to help see me through it.
"This too shall pass" became my mantra, something I'd tell myself when things got too tough. The following summer I had it tattooed to my wrist, where I can always see it as a reminder.
Strength Through the Struggle
I got this tattoo because the purple ribbon represents Crohn’s/colitis awareness. I added the words “struggle” and “strength.”
Making the Invisible, Visible
I've had Crohn's for over 20 years. I got my Crohn's tattoo in March of this year for awareness, and because Crohn's is one of the invisible diseases.
I want people to know that those of us with Crohn's look perfectly normal, but we’re not. Our insides are diseased, and we go through pain for days on end. We struggle daily trying to control the disease and to trying to live somewhat normal lives.
My Japanese koi fish represents swimming through my struggles with Crohn's over the years.
Reaping What You Sow
I got a tattoo of the Grim Reaper because I’ve beat him a few times over the last 30 years since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. The Crohn’s awareness ribbon is represented as a chain, because this disease has made it a constant struggle to have an ordinary life.
Every time I see my artwork, I’m reminded that no matter how bad it gets, I’m still winning! And despite the extra burden of Crohn’s, I’m determined to have a great life.
Carried by Faith
I've been living with Crohn’s for 23 years, and the battle is constant. I've had three re-sectional surgeries, one hernia surgery, and have spent quite some time going through hell.
However, I lead a very normal life: I'm married and have two daughters, work full time, and opened my own business. My inspiration for this tattoo is thanking the Lord for being there, even when I didn’t notice Him.
Honor and Awareness
I have Crohn's, and I have no shame or embarrassment about it. Having my tattoo on my right wrist brings attention to it, and helps raise awareness of the disease. It also helps me honor myself and my friends that have Crohn's or colitis.
I got the design idea from the website "Fleur for the CURE," but I'd played around with numerous ribbon designs, and I'd always liked the fleur-de-lis idea because I’m a New Orleans Saints fan.
—SSgt Robin Lewis
Supporting My Crohnies
My best friend of 20 years got the Crohn’s awareness ribbon with my name and a pink butterfly on it because pink is my favorite color. Having my friends doing this is extremely wonderful and helps spread awareness to a whole other group of people I can't reach myself.
A Personal Touch
I got this tattoo of a phoenix rising out of a lotus flower after having a resection surgery and an ostomy put in within a month of each other. It’s inspired by living through horrible conditions and coming back stronger than ever.
My husband would draw at night, working on a design to show that I wasn't letting Crohn's beat me—or him, for that matter. When he finalized the design, we were both in love with it and I got it inked the next day.
I got this tattoo in recognition of my mom. The praying hands stand for God having his hand on her through her fight with Crohn's since 1998. He has helped her escape.death three times. Her birthdate is underneath the Crohn's awareness ribbon.
This tattoo means so much to me and shows my mom I will always be by her side through the fight.
There Is Hope
I’ve had Crohn’s for 10 years, and my battle hasn't been easy. I’ve had many surgeries, complications, and my colon had to be removed. But I’ve been in remission for a year, thanks to Humira.
The butterfly is a symbol of hope and faith, and the ribbon is for Crohn’s awareness. I got it on my wrist in plain sight so that I can tell people about this invisible illness when they ask.
I just want to say best of luck to you all—don't give up hope.
Shot Through the Heart
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in August of 2001. I got my tattoo on my left outer thigh in October of 2012 at Electric City Tattoo in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The heart within the Crohn’s awareness ribbon is my Humira shot target, and I designed it myself.
I’ve had Crohn’s for 10 years. My sister who passed away from pancreatic cancer had the same color ribbon as me.
Fighting Invisible Illness with Faith and Strength
I'm 36 years old, and have been battling Crohn's disease for about 14 years. I also suffer from many other ailments, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoporosis, and several autoimmune diseases.
The purple ribbon is not only for Crohn’s, but also for fibro, as they both affect my daily life. The spoon represents the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino, which explains living with chronic illness.
Stronger Through the Years
This is my Crohn's butterfly. I've had Crohn's since I was 19 (now going on 50), and I’ve been through hell and back, including dying for 4 minutes. Soon it will say, "What doesn't kill you, will only make you stronger."
Imagine Better Things
My tattoo is inspired by my battle with Crohn's over the last 3.5 years, and also my dad's battles with ulcerative colitis and prostate cancer. The words “Imagine Better Things” are in my dad’s handwriting, and remind me that there is more to life than Crohn's and that I will overcome.