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Staying Stuck: The Dexcom Sensor Condundrum.

I've been using the Dexcom on and off for a year now, and most often, I don't experience accuracy problems.  I also don't have lot of issues wearing the sensor (especially now, in the winter, when most of my body is under some kind of clothing).  Overall, it works well for my diabetes management.

But.

There's that sticky issue.  

Or, better said:  the unsticky issue.

The sensors are FDA approved to last for seven days.  (Hence, Dexcom SEVEN.)  But I'll be damned if I can get it to stay stuck for more than five days.  Between my morning shower before work, my excursions to the gym five days a week and the subsequent shower at night, and the regular wearing clothes/sleeping/moving around bit, that sensor comes loose before its time is technically up.Hair dryers + Dexcom + SkinTac = Awesomely stuck

I've tried several ways of keeping the sensor stuck, and after a ton of trial-and-error, there seem to be a few methods to my madness.  Here they are, alphabetically arranged by their last letter:

SkinTac.  This stuff is the shit.  Seriously.   SkinTac is made by a Rhode Island company (yay Rhode Island!) and it helps keep the sticky adhesive stickier.  I run the SkinTac pad around the inside of the sensor, staying away from the wire itself, and then I put the gauze against my skin.  Chris (who almost always helps me apply a new sensor) then uses the SkinTac to really soak the outside of the gauze pad to ensure it's secure.  A little blast of heat (more on that in a second) and the sensor is stuck solidly.

Hair dryer.  Most often, I'm wearing my sensors on my arm because it's the most out of the way place and one that has unused space to spare.  After I cover the sensor gauze with SkinTac, Chris points the hair dryer at the sensor and dries it on a very low heat until it's completely dry and adhered to my skin.  A little blast of heat keeps the tape dry and also keeps it from peeling back when I put my arm through a sleeve.

Long Sleeve Shirts.  Once the sensor is in place, it helps me to keep a sleeve over it.  During the work day, this is usually the case, but for the gym, I often wear tank tops.  However, it's not the daytime activities that wear and tear my sensor most.  I've found that wearing a thin, longsleeve shirt to bed to protect the sensor from being jostled while I sleep.  It's like extra insurance that the edges won't peel back. This works for a sensor on the arm, obviously.  Otherwise, you're sporting sleeves purely for fashion reasons.  ;)

Playing Memory.  Sometimes I just need to plain remember where the hell I stuck the sensor in the first place.  With pump sites and CGM sensors scooting to new homes on my body every few days, I need to keep in mind where the sensor is so I don't accidentally rip it off.  Wearing it on my arm can cause some problems when putting on a sports bra or even a regular bra, so I need to be careful and make sure the bra strap completely clears the sensor when I'm getting dressed or undressed.  This isn't so much a "tip" as a knock on my apparently limited memory. 

Maybe this information will STICK with you?  Or are we all becoming a bit UNGLUED?  Whoops, looks like my caps lock is STICKING.  Maybe I should quit with these puns while I'm still ADHERED to my desk.  (Not.  Funny.  If you have a better pun, STICK it in the comments section.)

[Dexcom disclosure]

Comments

I wish I had a pun for you Kerri but I have no GLUE, I mean clue how to come up with one! Oh well.

Maybe it's the caffeine, but I had a vision just now of your little Dexcom sensor singing this...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq68VXaYs_Q

Back to my CLING peaches and ADHERING to reality ;)

My CGM is not a fashionable accessory. In fact, it's down-right TACKY. But I want it to stay put anyway. I find using Ivory soap instead of Dove on the day I'm putting a sensor in helps. I also switched from IV3000 to Tegaderm. Why CLING to IV3000 when it clearly wasn't working?

Oh, now that's just TACKY.

Hi Kerri,
I wear my Dexcom on average for 7-10 days or until it dies on me. I apply IV Prep first to the site and after the Dexcom is in place I use OPSITE FLEXIFIX TAPE by Smith & Nephew. The tape comes in a 4" x 11 foot roll. I cut two 2" wide strips of tape and I put it along the sides of the Dexcom gauze. This works great for me and I've worn some sensors as long as 14 days. Actually my husband does it for me because I also like to wear the Dexcom on my arm.

Shirley

Have you tried Mastisol? I used that for years with pump sites. (sites 10 years ago that I had to use tegaderm, etc to hold them on.) I liked it because it's a liquid that you can apply to edges when they start peeling up.

I just found your blog yesterday. My daughter is 4 and was diagnosed about 3 months ago. Our life is crazy! I am trying to learn what I can so I can better take care of her. I read your about me story and why you call your blog six until me. I cried! It brought it so close to home. I feel in just the two days that I have read your blog I have learned so much. Thank you! I will be back!

I just read about someone using false eyelash glue to keep the edges glued down!

Shirley

I had the same problem, the sensor would start to fall off after 3-4 days. I started using mastisol and it works wonders. I clean the site with IV prep, then apply the mastisol in a circle where the sensor fabric would go, excluding where the actual sensor would go into the skin. The only downfall is when you are ready to take the sensor off - it can be a little painful b/c the fabric really is glued to the skin.

Darn it! Someone beat me to the HOW TACKY joke!

At least I twittered it first. :P

The subject of continuous glucose monitors can be sticky emotionally as well. I personally swear by tegaderm and place mine on my upper outer buttock - where there is little bending taking place.

CGM's can also be hazardous:
http://minnesotafugue.blogspot.com/

peace!

Hi Kerri,

I'm wondering if you could tell me what Dexcom says about wearing the sensor in your arm. Minimed support has strongly cautioned me against it, but won't really give me a reason.

Oh, and I use Tegaderm...works great!

Thanks!

I use mastisol and opsite flexifix tape. I keep my sensors on sometimes up to a month. I have also been known to cut some of the old pealing flexifix tape and using it to reattach it. IV3000 was USELESS for me. I bought a roll of flexifix over a year ago and still working on it.

Just skip all that showering and moving around stuff. Problem solved!

Sorry, I'm useless.

Kerri,
I use the Omnipod and Dexcom also. I used to do it the same way as you and neither the pod or Dexcom stayed on. What I do now is I apply both of them after shower. First clean the area with alcohol wipe and then with the IV prep. Put the sensor or pod on and let it dry itself. And it works! And believe at the beginning the pod and the sensor didn't hold on me for more than 36 hours! Just don't put the skintac on the gauze and around the gauze. Put it straight on your skin and than place the sensor on it. I used to apply mastissol also but after a month my skin was terribly itchy!!!
(excuse my mistakes, but Slovakian writing here!)

Wish I had sticky bun but I am all punned out.
Bad wasn't it.
A sticky bun sounds yummy though.

Had to comment simply because of the hair dryer graphic. I had the same one! For about 2 years I think, then it died one day.

Wish you the best with your lack of tack.
ha ha. It's fun to laugh at yourself, especially when it's So lame.

No, what they need is a much smaller sensor or implantable one (current ones are too big and inaccurate).

I use the medtronic cgm (& your pump Kerry), which I like as it talks through my pump. I actually prefer wearing it on my thigh (larger area) & find with constant clothing (I don't wear hot pants) & IV3000, it works out, I've only ever pushed it to 8 days though (medtronic only suggest 3)! I guess we're all different (& yet similar)!
Take care, have a good weekend

I realize this is an old posting, but thought I would share my Dexcom experiences. I, too, am on the Dexcom for quite awhile and have issues with sticking until I found Cover Roll Stretch. I actually got a small piece from the Dermatologist to try. It is absolutely the best stuff. I got it on Amazon and was very reasonable. I bought two rolls right away. You just cut it to the size you need. I bought Cover Roll stretch by BSN Medical the 2 inch X 10 yard size. You just cut it to what size you want (I only have to use a very small piece. I bought two rolls and it cost me around $21. No shipping either. They advertised Cover Roll stretch by this company and also cover roll adhesive gauze. I don't know if they are different or not but I bought the cover roll stretch. That is what the dermatologist gave me a sample of and it worked! No more sensors coming off. Hope this helps

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