I slapped on my first Dexcom sensor over five years ago, using the old Dexcom STS system that lasted three days and you had to wear the giant sticky shower patch over the sensor to keep it from becoming water-logged. (And I had to walk uphill both ways to get to the endocrinologist's office, dagnabit.) Since first wearing the system, I've been addicted to the information, and I feel like I had the best pregnancy I could pull of as a result of following the graph.
Over the years, I've had few issues with the Dexcom, but early on, I saw a handful of weird rashes. Thankfully, for the last few years (since about 2009), I haven't had any Dexcom-related skin issues. Which means I've been suited up as a CGM robot without issue for years.
So why am I, all of a sudden, busting out with strange, itchy red rashes right underneath the sensor? Two weeks ago, I put a new sensor on and after about five days, it was starting to itch like mad. The results it was giving were spot-on with my meter, and I'm always reluctant to pull a sensor out too early (because even though they're usually fine once they're in, I hate the process of putting a new sensor on - creeps me out). But the itch was tremendous, so on day six, I pulled the sensor off and was greeted by a raised, red welt-looking patch of skin, previously hidden by the actual transmitter. It looked like a weird chemical burn. And it itchy like crazytown.
After two days of bathroom home remedies (neosporin and a Muppet Show bandaid - thanks for lending me the "Kermit Frog" one, Birdy), the welt calmed down and reduced to a small patch of scaly-looking skin. Now, almost a week later, it's just about completely healed and looks like it's about to peel, like a sunburnt spot.
But the same day I pulled the old sensor, I put a new one on. And damned if that thing didn't start to itch a few days later, too. I only made it three days into that one (because I didn't want to encourage a weeping skin rash), and sure enough, a fledgling patch of itch was brewing up underneath that site, too. The sensor I put on three days ago is on my left thigh and currently tingling, which makes me worry that I'm headed for a hat trick of itchiness.
I knew I'd heard of this kind of reaction to sensors, pump sites, etc, so I searched online for some PWDs who had encountered itchy Dexcom sensors, and it became clear I wasn't blazing (scratching?) a new path. Whole forum discussions were available on TuDiabetes and Children With Diabetes, detailing what is becoming unfortunately familiar to me. And Lorraine at This is Caleb has documented this skin irritation issue in a way that had me nodding in agreement and then itching in commiseration with Caleb.
Having used a CGM for over five years, I really value the information it gives me. ("Value" also equals "am addicted to," because even in the weeks when I'm a little sloppier about my diabetes management, I'm still extremely grateful when the Dexcom wakes me up from a hypo in the middle of the night. I can't properly describe what that kind of safety net means to me.) So I'm not willing to give up my CGM, not even for a few days. (In the last three years, I've taken it off so rarely that I feel creepy without it on.)
So now, it's about figuring out how to keep from acting rashly. I have an arsenal of skin prep and barrier tapes to try out, and I'm hoping there's a combination that keeps my skin safe and my Dexcom fired up. In the meantime: I scratch my head (and site) in confusion.