Awareness Ribbons Guide Colors and Meanings
10 December
2018

Awareness Ribbons Guide Colors and Meanings

In the healthcare sector, the use of colored ribbons helps in creating public awareness to disability, medical conditions, health and other issues. An awareness ribbon is simply a short piece of colored ribbon that is folded in a loop. These ribbons are adorned by people from all over the globe such as United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, etc. as a support for the issue or cause,

While you may have seen an awareness ribbon, you may not be aware of how many they are, the different colors and patterns they represent. Over the passage of time, new awareness ribbons are being created each day in support of hundreds of causes. If you intend to support a cause by adorning an awareness ribbon, this guide will help.

You will encounter a variety of awareness ribbons in your day-to-day encounters, where each means something different from the other. For instance, green is in support for an environmental cause, red is for coronary diseases, blue is for bullying awareness, etc. Regardless of the color of the ribbon, the idea remains the same.

These ribbons are available in different forms. They can found as car magnets that are put on back bumpers, notebook stickers, or pins that we can attach to our clothes. Regardless of where you place them, you give an impression that you stand for a cause. Moreover, wearing these ribbons also encourages other to support the cause. Thereby, these ribbons promote a bigger mission.

We have listed a brief history of the awareness ribbons along with the different ways to show support. We have divided the awareness ribbons according to color category, and listed the causes each represents. With new movements increasing, awareness ribbons are also increasingly rapidly.

What is "Cause Awareness" and why is it important?

The purpose behind these ribbons is to eradicate an illness and support the struggle of a loved on. Thereby, all efforts despite how big or small, bring us a step closer to the innate goal. In the healthcare industry, it is important to have a supportive network of allies that understand your struggle and vision.

History of Awareness Ribbons

The history of awareness ribbons is not clear, but they take roots from the practices followed in medieval times when ladies gave knights their token of affection and love. A few people believe that ribbons first gained popularity in the United States during the Civil War. Women wore yellow ribbons to express gratitude for loved ones on the battlefield.

While there is little evidence regarding the Civil War theory, it was the first time that yellow ribbons were used in the United States. The first time in November 1979, Penney Laingen tied a yellow ribbon on a tree outside her house in support of Ambassador Bruce Laingen, her husband who had been taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries when the American embassy was seized in Tehran. Her inspiration for this gesture was the old song, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree."

Laingen and other hostages were then released in January 1981, but the awareness ribbons were meant to stay. The yellow ribbons are worn as a support for the soldiers at war in the United States. However, it may have different meanings in other parts of the world.

How to Show Awareness

Of course, you can wear a ribbon on its own, but there are also others ways to show your support for a cause. For example, breast cancer is an extremely popular cause that is supported with pink ribbons.

Since many awareness campaigns share the same color or have various alternate colors, it is important to learn what cause you are actually supporting.

Different Awareness Ribbon Colors and Meaning

There are a total of seven different colors and its multiple shades that are associated with diseases and other conditions. We have prepared a list of colors, its particular shades, and different patterns to help you learn about awareness ribbons.

Red

Typically, people use the red ribbon to raise awareness and show support for HIV/AIDS patients. Apart from this, red ribbon is also considered as a symbol for heart disease, stroke, substance abuse, and more. We have listed numerous diseases that are associated with the color and shades of red.

  • Amber: Appendix Cancer
  • Burgundy: Adhesions, Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, Adults with Disabilities, Brain Aneurysm, Post-Polio Syndrome, Cesarean Section, AV Malformation, Disabled Adults, Lymphatic Malformation, Factor V Leiden, Headaches, Hereditary Hemochromatosis, Hemangioma and Vascular Malformation, Hospice Care, Meningitis, Meningococcal Meningitis, Migraine, Multiple Myeloma, PHACES, Cystic Hygroma, Sickle Cell Anemia, Hughes Syndrome, Sturge-Weber Syndrome, Thrombophilia and Williams Syndrome
  • Cranberry: Fibromyalgia
  • Peach: Endometrial Cancer, Vaginal Cancer, Uterine Cancer
  • Pink: Birth Parents, Breast Cancer, Nursing Mothers
  • Red: AIDS/HIV, Blood Cancers and Disorders, Cardiovascular Disease, Apert Syndrome, Bronchiolitis Obliterans (BOS), Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, Congenital Heart Defects, Congenital Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Aplastic Anemia, Courage and Inspiration, DARE, Burn Victims, Driving under the Influence, Diamond Blackfan Anemia, Evans Syndrome, Factor XI Deficiency, Heart Disease, Wegener's Granulomatosis, Dysautonomia, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Hemophilia, Huffing, Hypertension, Inhalant Abuse, Project Red Flag, Love, Lymphoma, High Blood Pressure, MADD, Marfan Syndrome, Poland Syndrome, Long Q-T Syndrome, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Stroke, Substance Abuse, Sniffing Abuse, Tuberculosis, Von Willebrand's Disease, Wolf-Parkinson-White.

Yellow

People attach or wear yellow ribbon to support our troops who have been striving hard to keep our nation protected. It is also used in other instances including suicide prevention, missing children, bladder, and more. You can find other symbols associated with the ribbon below.

  • Yellow: Adenosarcoma, Ewing’s Sarcoma, Gulf War, Bladder Cancer, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, POW/MIA, Adoptive Parents, Liver Cancer, Canadian Cancer Society, Liver Disease, Complementary/Alternative Medicine, Endometriosis, Equality, Amber Alert, Hydrocephalus, Missing Children, Suicide Awareness, Osteosarcoma, Obesity, Remembrance, Sarcoma, Spina Bifida, Myxoid Liposarcoma, Troop or Military Support

Blue

The most common symbol of the blue ribbon is to show support for child abuse and prevention. The ribbon color also represents anti-bullying, sex slavery awareness, and addiction recovery awareness. Keep reading to learn more about this awareness ribbon.

  • Blue: Alopecia, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Anal Cancer (alternate), Anti-Bullying, Apraxia, Children’s Healthy Weight, Arthritis, Colon Cancer, Brachial Plexus Injuries, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), Cru du Chat Syndrome, Child Abuse, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Drunk Driving, Colitis, Colorectal Cancer, Epstein-Barr Virus, Crime Victims’ Rights, Crohn’s Disease, Free Speech, Drowning Awareness, Guillain Barre Syndrome, Dysautonomia, Dystonia, Education, Interstitial Cystitis, Erb’s Palsy, Familial Polyposis, Water Accidents, Foster Care Awareness, Hydrocephalus (U.S.), Teens against Smoking, Huntington’s Disease, Hurricanes, Police Lost in Line of Duty, Histiocytosis, Juvenile Arthritis, Krabbe Disease, Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, Leukodystrophies, ME/CFIDS, Myositis, Prevent School Violence, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (IO), Victims of Hurricane Katrina, Restless Legs Syndrome, Ichthyosis, Victim’s Rights, Juvenile Dermatomyositis, Steven Johnson Syndrome, Pompe Disease (also denim blue), Transverse Myelitis, Usher’s Syndrome, Save the Music, Water Quality, Water Safety, West Nile Virus
  • Light Blue: Addison’s Disease, DiGeorge Sequence, Chronic Illness, Hydrocephalus, Klinefelter’s Syndrome, Cushing Syndrome, Trisomy 18, Lymphedema, Men's Health, Graves’ Disease, Hyperaldosteronism, Behcet’s Disease, Prostate Cancer, Pro Choice, Shprintzen Syndrome, Spay or Neuter Pets, Scleroderma, Thyroid Disease, Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome
  • Navy Blue: Alopecia, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Child Abuse, Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer, Mastocytosis, Colorectal Cancer, ARDS, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, Drowning, Education, Epstein-Barr Virus, Water Accidents, Death of Police Officer on Duty, Crime Victims’ Rights, Free Speech, Guillain Barre Syndrome, Huntington’s Disease, Hurricane Katrina, Erb’s Palsy, Restless Legs Syndrome, Victims’ Rights, Teens against Smoking, Water Quality and Water Safety
  • Pale Blue: Achalasia Disease
  • Periwinkle: Gastric Cancer, Acid Reflux, Eating Disorders, Eosinophilic Disorders, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Esophageal Cancer, Small Intestine Cancer, Anorexia Nervosa, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Bulimia Nervosa, Pulmonary Hypertension, Stomach Cancer
  • Robin’s Egg Blue: Pierre Robin Syndrome
  • Royal Blue: Transverse Myelitis, Child Abuse Awareness, Syringomyelia
  • Teal: Marker X Syndrome, Agoraphobia, Batten Disease, Chiari Malformation, Fragile X Syndrome, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Martin-Bell Syndrome, Anxiety Disorder, Compulsive Disorder, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Ectodermal Dysphasia, Cervical Cancer, Food Allergies, Hoarding, Myasthenia Gravis, Sexual Assault, Obsessive- Ovarian Cancer, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Uterine Cancer, Panic Disorder, Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), Rape, Substance Abuse, Tourette’s Syndrome, Tsunami Victims, Vulvar Cancer
  • Turquoise: Interstitial Cystitis, Addiction Recovery, Native American Reparation, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), Renal Cell Carcinoma

Orange

Orange awareness ribbon is associated with leukemia and multiple sclerosis. People also wear this to show support for individuals who have spinal cancer or kidney cancers. Other conditions that are represented via orange ribbon are mentioned below.

  • Orange: Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Hunger, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, Leukemia, Melanoma, Lupus, Cultural Diversity, Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma), Motorcycle Safety, Agent Orange, Racial Tolerance, Spinal Cancer, Sensory Processing Disorder, Self-Injury, Prader-Willi Syndrome

Green

Childhood depression is the most common representation of this awareness ribbon. Green also symbolizes cerebral palsy, bipolar disorder, and other condition. Check out what the color green and its shades means.

  • Green: Cerebral Palsy, Bipolar Disorder, Eye Injury Prevention, Bronchiolitis Obliterans (BOS), Adrenal Cancer, Dwarfism Awareness, Depression, Bone Marrow Donation, Environment, Fanconi’s Syndrome, Childhood Depression, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, Glaucoma, Growth and Rebuilding, Living Organ Donation, Kidney Cancer and Disease, Leukemia, Literacy, Kidney Donation, Freedom, Mental Health, Neural Tube Defects, Mental Illness (Bipolar), Mental Retardation, Gastroparesis, Manic Depression, Nephrotic Syndrome, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Missing Children Mitochondrial Disease, Organ Donation, Traumatic Brain Injury, Organ Transplant, Stem Cell Donor and Research, Pruned Belly Syndrome, Neurofibromatosis, Safe Driving, Pedestrian Safety, Save Darfur, Spinal Cord Injury and Research, Tissue Donation, Von Hippel Lindau, Worker Safety
  • Jade: Hepatitis B, Liver Cancer
  • Light Green: Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD), Chronic Pelvic Pain, Celiac Disease, Human Papilloma Virus
  • Lime Green: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Lymph Node Cancer), Gastroschisis, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Sandhoff Disease, Lyme Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Lymphoma, Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Mint Green: Genetic Disorders, Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis, Ivemark Syndrome, Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease

Purple

Purple typically represents pancreatic cancer and epilepsy. It is also a symbol for Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, animal abuse, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia, sarcoidosis awareness, thyroid cancer, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and religious tolerance.

  • Lavender: Caregiver Appreciation, Cancer (unspecified), Epilepsy, Gynecological Cancer, Foster Care, Infantile Spasms, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, Rett Syndrome
  • Orchid: Testicular Cancer
  • Purple: ADHD, Animal Abuse, Crohn’s Disease, ADD, Arnold Chiari Malformation, Alzheimer’s, Anti-Violence, Fibromyalgia in Men, GI Cancer (Intestinal), Chronic Pain, Colitis, Cystic Fibrosis, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Harmony, Homelessness, Leiomyosarcoma, Lupus, Mucolipidosis, Neuropathy Awareness, Macular Degeneration, Migraines (1st choice: alternate burgundy), Domestic Violence, No Unattended Kids in Cars, Pancreatic Cancer, Pancreatitis (Chronic), Thyroid Cancer, Religious Tolerance, Mesh Survivor, Sarcoidosis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Thymoma Cancer, Rett Syndrome, Victims of 9/11
  • Violet Ribbon: Hodgkin’s Disease, Testicular Cancer

Neutrals

Black ribbons are used as general symbols for mourning, and you may see magnetic versions raising awareness for POW/MIA as an alternative to yellow. This color is used as a sign of mourning, but also represents melanoma awareness, sleep disorders, and gang prevention. Other neutral colors are discussed below:

  • Black: Amish Support, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, Gang Prevention, Accidents, Gun Control, Anti-Terrorism, Narcolepsy, Mourning, POW/MIA, Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorders, Students for Gun Control, Melanoma, Trauma
  • Brown: Colon Cancer, Familia Polyposis, Colorectal Cancer, Anti-Tobacco, Tobacco Awareness
  • Copper: Herpes Simplex Virus
  • Cream: Paralysis, Spinal Disorders, Spinal Cord Injuries, Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Gold: Childhood Cancer, Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma, COPD, Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Neuroblastoma
  • Grey: Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, Brain Tumors, Allergies, Brain Cancer, Asthma, Diabetes, Aphasia, Mental Illness (Borderline Personality Disorder)
  • Pearl: Lung Cancer, Emphysema, Mesothelioma, Lung Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia
  • Silver: Brain Disorders, Campaign for the Brain, Disabled Children, Brain Disabilities, Parkinson’s Disease, Encephalitis, Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Elderly Abuse, Niemann-Pick, Sciatic Pain, VACTERL, Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), Young Onset Parkinson’s Association (YOPA)
  • White: Adoption, Congenital Cataracts, Adoptee, Bone Cancer, Anti-Pornography, Blindness, Bone Disease, Child Exploitation, Anti-Child Pornography, Child Sexual Abuse/Assault, Anti-War, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Community Support, Hernia, Hope and Support, Innocence, Online Sexual Predator Awareness and Internet Safety, Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, Elderly Affairs, Salvation Army, Holocaust Remembrance, Molestation Survivor, Osteoporosis, Peace, Retinoblastoma, Right to Life, Safe Motherhood, Scoliosis, Postpartum Depression, Stalking, Student Sexual Abuse, Victims of Terrorism

Color Combinations

  • Black and Blue: loss of a male child, mourning a brother, loss of a brother, mourning a son
  • Black and Pink: loss of a female child, mourning a sister, loss of a sister, mourning a daughter
  • Black and Red: murdered children, loss of a firefighter on duty, murder victims
  • Black and White: Anti-Racism, Gifted Education, Carcinoid Cancer, Transitions, Diversity, Vaccine Awareness
  • Blue and Green: Anal Cancer, Pseudotumor Cerebri, a.k.a. intracranial hypertension
  • Blue and Purple: Pediatric Stroke, Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Blue and Red: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Congenital Heart Defects and Disease, Noonan’s Syndrome, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Osler Weber Rendu Syndrome (HHT), SADS, Rare Lung Diseases
  • Blue and Yellow: Designated Drivers, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Down Syndrome
  • Burgundy and Ivory: Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Laryngeal Cancer, Oral head and neck cancers, Throat Cancer, Pharyngeal Cancer
  • Burgundy and Purple: Arachnoiditis
  • Dark Blue, Orange and Orchid: Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Gold and Silver: Hearing Impairments, Hearing Disorders, Tinnitus, Meniere's Disease
  • Light Green, Light Blue and Pink: Hypotonia
  • Marigold, Blue and Purple: Bladder Cancer
  • Orange and White: Bicycle Safety, Bike Helmet Safety
  • Orchid and Orange: Eczema, Psoriasis
  • Periwinkle and White: Esophageal Atresia/Tracheoesophageal Fistula 9EA/TEF
  • Pink and Blue: Hyperammonemia, Amniotic Fluid Embolism, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Baby Safe Haven, Male Breast Cancer, Infertility, Infant Loss, Pregnancy Loss, Premature Birth, Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Birth Defects, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, chILD (Pediatric Bronchiolitis Obliterans)
  • Pink, Purple and Teal: Thyroid Cancer
  • Purple and Black: Tracheostomy, Necrotizing Enterocolitis
  • Purple and Green: Stickler Syndrome, Schizencephaly
  • Purple, Teal and Green: Medullary Sponge Kidney (Cacchi-Ricci disease)
  • Purple and Yellow: Autoimmune Hepatitis, Chemical Injury and Lupus, Endometriosis
  • Red and Gold: Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia (NAIT) Awareness
  • Red and Orange: Adiposis Dolorosa (Dercum's Disease)
  • Red and Pearl: Latex Allergy
  • Red and White: Aplastic Anemia, DVT, Head and Neck Cancer, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, Oral Cancer, Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Red, White and Black: Pernicious Anaemia and B12 Deficiency
  • Red and Yellow: Hepatitis C, HIV/HCV Co-Infection, surviving family members of suicide victims
  • Red, Yellow and Blue: all forms of Trisomy
  • Silver and Blue: Corpus Callosum
  • Teal and Purple: Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault
  • Teal and White: Cervical Cancer

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