Awareness Ribbons Guide: Colors and Meanings

Doctor wearing awareness ribbon on lab coat

You know what an awareness ribbon is— do you know how many of them there are, or what the different colors and patterns represent? New awareness ribbons are being created every day and the many different causes total in the hundreds. If you’d like to support a cause by wearing an awareness ribbon, look no further than this guide.

Below, we outline a brief history of awareness ribbons and different ways to show support. Then, we break down awareness ribbons by color category and list the causes that each color represents. New movements are adding awareness ribbons at a rapid rate, but we’ve done our best to capture a comprehensive list of causes. If you’d like to find the colors for a specific cause or disease, press Control + F (Windows) or Command + F (Mac), then type the term into the search bar that appears.

History of Awareness Ribbons

The history of awareness ribbons is not completely clear, though they likely stem from a practice during medieval times when ladies gave jousting knights tokens of their affection and esteem. Some believe that the ribbons first rose to prominence in the United States during the Civil War when women supposedly wore yellow ribbons to symbolize their loved ones fighting on the battlefield.

There’s little historical evidence for the Civil War theory, but the yellow ribbon was the first notable use of awareness ribbons in the U.S. The first use of a yellow ribbon occurred in November 1979 when Penney Laingen tied a yellow ribbon around a tree outside her house in honor of her husband, U.S. Ambassador Bruce Laingen, who had been taken hostage when Iranian revolutionaries seized the American embassy in Tehran. She was inspired to do this by the old song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.”

Laingen and his fellow hostages were finally released in January 1981, but awareness ribbons were here to stay. Yellow ribbons have more broadly come to symbolize support for soldiers fighting abroad, at least in the U.S., but they have different meanings in other countries. (For example, in the U.K., yellow ribbons are usually used to raise awareness for missing persons, while they symbolize the democracy protest movement in Hong Kong.) Now, more than 100 causes are associated with awareness ribbons of all different colors.

Patient wearing white shirt and awareness ribbon

How to Show Awareness

Of course, you can wear a ribbon itself—but there are many more ways to show your support beyond a simple ribbon. For example, let’s take breast cancer, one of the most well-known health awareness causes. You can buy breast cancer awareness shirts and even compression socks, clogs and nursing bags. Not every cause, especially less well-known diseases, will have as many cause-specific options available.

Since many awareness campaigns share the same color or have multiple alternate colors (as you’ll notice from our list below), you might want to be ready to explain what specific cause you’re advocating for. Below, we break down the many types of awareness ribbons by color family: red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple, neutrals, color combinations and patterns.

Doctor wearing awareness ribbon holds patients hand


Amber: Appendix Cancer

Burgundy: Adhesions, Adults with Disabilities, Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, AV Malformation, Brain Aneurysm, Cesarean Section, Cystic Hygroma, Disabled Adults, Factor V Leiden, Headaches, Hemangioma and Vascular Malformation, Hereditary Hemochromatosis, Hospice Care, Hughes Syndrome, Lymphatic Malformation, Meningitis, Meningococcal Meningitis, Migraine, Multiple Myeloma, PHACES, Post-Polio Syndrome, Sickle Cell Anemia, Sturge-Weber Syndrome, Thrombophilia and Williams Syndrome

Cranberry: Fibromyalgia

Peach: Endometrial Cancer, Uterine Cancer, Vaginal Cancer

Pink: Breast Cancer, Birth Parents, Nursing Mothers

Red: AIDS/HIV, Aplastic Anemia, Apert Syndrome, Blood Cancers and Disorders, Bronchiolitis Obliterans (BOS), Burn Victims, Cardiovascular Disease, Congenital Heart Defects, Congenital Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Courage and Inspiration, DARE, Diamond Blackfan Anemia, Driving under the Influence, Dysautonomia, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Evans Syndrome, Factor XI Deficiency, Heart Disease, Hemophilia, High Blood Pressure, Huffing, Hypertension, Inhalant Abuse, Long Q-T Syndrome, Love, Lymphoma, MADD, Marfan Syndrome, Poland Syndrome, Project Red Flag, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Sniffing Abuse, Stroke, Substance Abuse, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, Tuberculosis, Von Willebrand's Disease, Wegener's Granulomatosis, Wolf-Parkinson-White


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


Blue: Alopecia, Anal Cancer (alternate), Ankylosing Spondylitis, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), Anti-Bullying, Apraxia, Arthritis, Brachial Plexus Injuries, Child Abuse, Children’s Healthy Weight, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Colitis, Colon Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Crime Victims’ Rights, Crohn’s Disease, Cru du Chat Syndrome, Drowning Awareness, Dysautonomia, Dystonia, Drunk Driving, Education, Epstein-Barr Virus, Erb’s Palsy, Familial Polyposis, Free Speech, Foster Care Awareness, Guillain Barre Syndrome, Hydrocephalus (U.S.), Huntington’s Disease, Hurricanes, Histiocytosis, Ichthyosis, Interstitial Cystitis, Juvenile Dermatomyositis, Juvenile Arthritis, Krabbe Disease, Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, Leukodystrophies, ME/CFIDS, Myositis, Police Lost in Line of Duty, Prevent School Violence, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (IO), Pompe Disease (also denim blue), Restless Legs Syndrome, Steven Johnson Syndrome, Teens against Smoking, Transverse Myelitis, Usher’s Syndrome, Victim’s Rights, Victims of Hurricane Katrina, Save the Music, Water Accidents, Water Quality, Water Safety, West Nile Virus

Light Blue: Addison’s Disease, Behcet’s Disease, Chronic Illness, Cushing Syndrome, DiGeorge Sequence, Graves’ Disease, Hyperaldosteronism, Hydrocephalus, Klinefelter’s Syndrome, Lymphedema, Men's Health, Pro Choice, Prostate Cancer, Scleroderma, Shprintzen Syndrome, Spay or Neuter Pets, Thyroid Disease, Trisomy 18, Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome

Navy Blue: Alopecia, ARDS, Arthritis, Child Abuse, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Colitis, Colon Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Crime Victims’ Rights, Crohn’s Disease, Drowning, Education, Epstein-Barr Virus, Erb’s Palsy, Free Speech, Guillain Barre Syndrome, Huntington’s Disease, Hurricane Katrina, Death of Police Officer on Duty, Mastocytosis, Rectal Cancer, Restless Legs Syndrome, Teens against Smoking, Victims’ Rights, Water Accidents, Water Quality and Water Safety

Pale Blue: Achalasia Disease

Periwinkle: Acid Reflux, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Eating Disorders, Eosinophilic Disorders, Esophageal Cancer, Gastric Cancer, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Pulmonary Hypertension, Small Intestine Cancer, Stomach Cancer

Robin’s Egg Blue: Pierre Robin Syndrome

Royal Blue: Child Abuse Awareness, Transverse Myelitis, Syringomyelia

Teal: Agoraphobia, Anxiety Disorder, Batten Disease, Cervical Cancer, Chiari Malformation, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Ectodermal Dysphasia, Food Allergies, Fragile X Syndrome, Hoarding, Marker X Syndrome, Martin-Bell Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Ovarian Cancer, Panic Disorder, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, Rape, Sexual Assault, Substance Abuse, Tourette Syndrome, Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), Tsunami Victims, Uterine Cancer, Vulvar Cancer

Turquoise: Addiction Recovery, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), Interstitial Cystitis, Native American Reparation, Renal Cell Carcinoma


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

Medical conditions awareness ribbons


Green: Adrenal Cancer, Bipolar Disorder, Bone Marrow Donation, Bronchiolitis Obliterans (BOS), Cerebral Palsy, Childhood Depression, Dwarfism Awareness, Depression, Environment, Eye Injury Prevention, Fanconi’s Syndrome, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, Freedom, Gastroparesis, Glaucoma, Growth and Rebuilding, Kidney Cancer and Disease, Kidney Donation, Leukemia, Literacy, Living Organ Donation, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Mental Illness (Bipolar), Mental Retardation, Missing Children Mitochondrial Disease, Nephrotic Syndrome, Neural Tube Defects, Neurofibromatosis, Organ Donation, Organ Transplant, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Pruned Belly Syndrome, Safe Driving, Pedestrian Safety, Save Darfur, Spinal Cord Injury and Research, Stem Cell Donor and Research, Tissue Donation, Traumatic Brain Injury, Von Hippel Lindau, Worker Safety

Jade: Hepatitis B, Liver Cancer

Light Green: Celiac Disease, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Human Papilloma Virus, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)

Lime Green: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Gastroschisis, Lyme Disease, Lymphoma, Muscular Dystrophy, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Lymph Node Cancer), Sandhoff Disease, Spinal Cord Injuries

Mint Green: Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease, Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis, Genetic Disorders, Ivemark Syndrome


Lavender: Cancer (unspecified), Caregiver Appreciation, Epilepsy, Foster Care, Gynecological Cancer, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis, Infantile Spasms, Rett Syndrome

Orchid: Testicular Cancer

Purple: ADD, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Animal Abuse, Anti-Violence, Arnold Chiari Malformation, Chronic Pain, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Domestic Violence, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Fibromyalgia in Men, GI Cancer (Intestinal), Harmony, Homelessness, Leiomyosarcoma, Lupus, Macular Degeneration, Mesh Survivor, Migraines (1st choice: alternate burgundy), Mucolipidosis, Neuropathy Awareness, No Unattended Kids in Cars, Pancreatic Cancer, Pancreatitis (Chronic), Religious Tolerance, Rett Syndrome, Sarcoidosis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Thymoma Cancer, Thyroid Cancer, Victims of 9/11

Violet Ribbon: Hodgkin’s Disease, Testicular Cancer


Black: Accidents, Amish Support, Anti-Terrorism, Gang Prevention, Gun Control, Melanoma, Mourning, Narcolepsy, POW/MIA, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorders, Students for Gun Control, Trauma

Brown: Anti-Tobacco, Colon Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Familia Polyposis, Tobacco Awareness

Copper: Herpes Simplex Virus

Cream: Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Paralysis, Spinal Cord Injuries, Spinal Disorders, Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Gold: Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, Childhood Cancer, COPD, Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma, Neuroblastoma, Osteosarcoma

Grey: Allergies, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, Aphasia, Asthma, Brain Cancer, Brain Tumors, Diabetes, Mental Illness (Borderline Personality Disorder)

Pearl: Emphysema, Lung Cancer, Lung Disease, Mesothelioma, Multiple Sclerosis, Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia

Silver: Brain Disabilities, Brain Disorders, Campaign for the Brain, Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), Disabled Children, Dyslexia, Elderly Abuse, Encephalitis, Niemann-Pick, Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia, Sciatic Pain, VACTERL, Young Onset Parkinson’s Association (YOPA)

White: Adoptee, Adoption, Anti-Child Pornography, Anti-Pornography, Anti-War, Blindness, Bone Cancer, Bone Disease, Child Exploitation, Child Sexual Abuse/Assault, Community Support, Congenital Cataracts, Elderly Affairs, Hernia, Holocaust Remembrance, Hope and Support, Innocence, Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, Molestation Survivor, Online Sexual Predator Awareness and Internet Safety, Osteoporosis, Peace, Postpartum Depression, Retinoblastoma, Right to Life, Safe Motherhood, Salvation Army, Scoliosis, Stalking, Student Sexual Abuse, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Victims of Terrorism

Color Combinations

Black and Blue: loss of a brother, loss of a male child, mourning a brother, mourning a son

Black and Pink: loss of a sister, loss of a female child, mourning a sister, mourning a daughter

Black and Red: murder victims, murdered children, loss of a firefighter on duty

Black and White: Anti-Racism, Carcinoid Cancer, Diversity, Gifted Education, Transitions, Vaccine Awareness

Blue and Green: Anal Cancer, Pseudotumor Cerebri, a.k.a. intracranial hypertension

Blue and Purple: Pediatric Stroke, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Blue and Red: Congenital Heart Defects and Disease, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Osler Weber Rendu Syndrome (HHT), Noonan’s Syndrome, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Rare Lung Diseases, SADS

Blue and Yellow: Designated Drivers, Down Syndrome, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Burgundy and Ivory: oral head and neck cancers, Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Throat Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer, Pharyngeal Cancer

Burgundy and Purple: Arachnoiditis

Dark Blue, Orange and Orchid: Psoriatic Arthritis

Gold and Silver: Hearing Disorders, Hearing Impairments, Meniere's Disease, Tinnitus

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: Amniotic Fluid Embolism, Baby Safe Haven, Birth Defects, Male Breast Cancer, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Hyperammonemia, Infant Loss, Infertility, Miscarriage, Pregnancy Loss, Premature Birth, Stillbirth, 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


Cow Print: Omphalocele

Beige with Giraffe Print: Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome

Beige with Royal Blue Trim: Hip Dysplasia

Black and White Stripes: Breast Implant Illness

Blue, Pink and Yellow with Clouds: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Brown with Pink Dots: Persistent Cloaca

Gold and Blue with Diamond: Bohring-Opitz Syndrome

Grey with Red Heart: Juvenile Diabetes

Ivory with Rose: Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Light Green with Dark Blue Trim: Body-focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB)

Multi-Colored Flame: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Orange with Fox Tail: FOXG1

Purple and Teal with White Stars: Necrotizing Fasciitis

Purple and White Stripe: Relapsing Polychondritis

Puzzle: Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Quilt Design: Dissociative Identity Disorder

Rainbow: Adrenocortical Carcinoma,Gay Pride, Same Sex Marriage

Red with White Border: Chronic Venous Insufficiency Awareness

Royal Blue with Yellow Border: Mandibulofacial Dysostosis with Microcephaly

USA FlagNational Support, Fireworks Safety, Flag, World Trade Center Victims and Heroes

White with Blue Outline: Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

White and Red Polka Dots: Autoimmune Progesterone Dermatitis

White with Navy Pinstripe: Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)

White with Violet Polka Dots: Cold Urticaria

Yellow and Multicolored: Gilbert’s Syndrome

Zebra Stripe: Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Endocrine Cancer, Primary Immunodeficiency, Rare Disease Awareness, Stiff Person Syndrome, Vaccine Awareness

Zebra Stripes with Red: Hashimoto’s Encephalitis

Awareness ribbons can be confusing to navigate, but this guide compiles everything that you need to know in one handy place. It’s never too late to begin raising awareness for a cause or disease, and awareness ribbons are an easy place to start.