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Sticky Issues.

Last week and in pursuit of keeping the skin rashes at bay, I tried a new Dexcom sensor on my thigh, but instead of placing it directly against my skin, I put a piece of that Opsite Flexifix tape underneath the sensor (cutting a teeny hole out for the Dexcom wire insertion), and sticking the sensor to that instead of my actual skin.

And for the first few days, I was all, "Ahhhh!" because it seemed like it was a solution to avoiding the itchy, burning rash.

And then, I was all *scratch, scratch,* because the sensor was somehow affecting my skin, even with the tape as a barrier.  I gave the site a full seven days, but as soon as it beeped "Change sensor now," I gratefully ripped the thing loose.  Underneath, the rash wasn't too raw (not nearly as raw as the first one I experienced), but it was prickly and bumpy and if I let my brain think about how much it might possibly itch, I wanted to scratch my leg down to the bare bone.

Gross.

So I'm trying two new attempts this week:  the sensor is up north, on my arm, and I also applied a layer of Benadryl spray to my skin before slapping on the new sensor (per the recommendation of several very clever people, to whom I shall send balloons and jellybeans to).  So far, since last night, not a whisper of an itch, and the sensor is giving me very good results.  Will this work because of the Benadryl?  Or because the sensor is in completely new skin real estate? Did I get a batch of sensors that I'm reacting strangely to? 

Whatever works. Not having the Dexcom information makes me twitchy, so I'll tar and feather myself if that's what it takes to keep this thing stuck on and keep my safety net intact. 

[Dexcom disclosure]  

Comments

Can't wait to hear if the benadryl helped. I use tegaderm (2) to keep my sensor in place so mine is put over the sensor. My skin usually itches for a day or two after removal.

Have you contacted Dexcom, to see if they changed their adhesive?

I know this sounds crazy, but please tell me which of your experiments work. I know exactly the angry welts you described!

Kerri, I can't wear the opsite on my belly or I break out just like you do.Opsite anywhere else on my body is fine. ??? I'm only two weeks into using Dexcom and so far, so good. I do use my arm for Dex. And the Benadryl spray ROCKS....you can spray it on anytime if your site is itchy.

I had the exact same problem happen out of the blue with the Cleo infusion sets that I was using for years. Terrible rash, raw skin, etc! Tried everything including Opsite, IV prep, creams, etc, but the rash kept coming although it slowed it down slightly. Switched to Insets and the problem disappeared. I am pretty sure it had something to do with a change in adhesive they were using. It's a bummer that it is not as easy to switch CGM sensors as it is infusion sets. I hope you find a solution!

I also just wanted to say that I really appreciate your blog. The experiences you share are so right on. It is nice to know that others are going through the exact same struggles with diabetes as I am, and that even with the best attempts sometimes the blood sugar just does it's own thing.

The sudden immune response you are having to the Dexcom tape reminded me of an experience I had a number of years ago with a tape called Hypofix (I think)which I used to hold my infusion set in place when I was in very damp conditions (such as the beach). When I removed the tape and the infusion set to go swimming (this was before the days of disconnecting sets) there apparently was a residue of tape adhesive that stopped the sun block from penetrating where the tape had been. Consequently I got a bad sunburn on that patch and ever after that I had the reaction you describe to that brand of tape. I realize this is only a possible explanation (which I think of because you have recounted a number of beach trips this summer) and not a solution.

We have the same problem with Tony's Minimed sensor. What works for him is to stick a piece of moleskin to the bottom of the transmitter (so the fuzzy side is against his skin) and cover the whole mess with IV3000.

Hi Kerry - Sorry you're dealing with this! Have you tried any of the skin barrier wipes like IV Prep? It's back on the market now and might help. I use it under my pump sites but haven't tried it with the Dexcome.

HUGE believer in putting a piece of Curad non-stick pad under the sensor. Since I cut the pad to fit, I get about 6 small pads out of 1 big pad.
So far this is the only thing we've tried that doesn't irritate Abby's skin.

Just curious: do you use anything beyond alcohol swabs to clean the site, in particular antibacterial soap or antibacterial treatments? I found that avoiding all of those and just relying on "hypoallergenic" soap in the shower and alcohol skin wipes led to a huge decrease in skin reactions over time and absolutely no site infections for either Dexcom (two week use) and pump. I think that the normal skin flora (which is non-pathogenic and helps crowd out the bad guys) might be part of the reason. The fact that Benadryl works means that you have an IgE response and histamine release to something in the area of the adhesive. A normal skin flora population can help keep that hypersensitivity modulated.

I may be way off here but... I suggest a routine of wash site, rub in a lotion with Alphahydroxy Acid (very important that it has AHA), let dry and then alcohol wipe. I HAVE to moisturize under any Dex Site or risk mighty itchy bumps. It's like that for me all the time but maybe your skin has gotten sensitive to cooler weather? I hope it works for you like it does for me!

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