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Surface Tension.

Maybe it was because one afternoon had me running outside on the trail near my house (in shorts, mind you) with daffodils threatening to bloom any minute, and the next day I was walking through Providence with gloves and a wool coat and the desire to light myself on fire in efforts to thaw.  Did this shift in weather, bouncing from almost-spring to definitely-winter aggravate my sensitive skin?  (I'm a delicate flower, damn it.) 

Whatever the reason, any surface area of my skin that has come into contact with a Dexcom sensor or pump site adhesive in the last three months was suddenly, and painfully, inflamed Sunday and Monday.

I noticed it first on Friday evening, after being out in Providence for a few hours, walking long enough outside to give my hands that "Hey, you're a 108 year old woman!" chapping.  A repeat performance on Saturday had me itching recklessly at my Dexcom sensor, despite the Toughpad that anchored it to my skin.  And Sunday morning, after taking a hot shower, I noticed that there were egg-shaped patches of skin, perfectly matching the shape of a Dexcom sensor, raised and itching on my thighs.  These patches were accompanied by smaller circles matching my infusion set adhesive, dotting along the back of my hips and my arms.  

And the itch?  Oh the freaking itch!  

"Holy ... is that from your sites?" Chris asked me on Sunday night, seeing the patch on my arm that you could roast a marshmallow over.

"It is.  But dude, it was from like December. I don't think I've had a Dexcom sensor on my arm at all this year.  It's crazy inflamed right now, and I have no idea why."

"The pump site right near it looks itchy, too," he said, circling me and noting the patchwork of itchy bits and robot parts. 

"Itches like mad."

These matchy-matchy moments don't happen often, so damn it, I'm photographing them.  Also, what do you think a hedgehog looks like, naked?  I bet flubby.

It's been three days, and the hot rashes (sounds so much sexier than it actually is) have calmed down, but only after I peeled off the Dexcom sensor (underneath it was just a touch prickly, but the edges were on fire because they had touched where previous sensors rested) and only after I rerouted a new pump set.  (And after slathering my sites with anti-itch creams and hydrocortisone treatments and basically the entire "Itch!" aisle at CVS.)  I'm convinced this reaction was a response to the weather change, and how cold weather makes these rashes far worse. 

But now what?! I have these makeshift solutions for the sensor, but my skin needs to heal before I can give any of these a go again.  And now my pump sites are causing hives?  A blustery winter weekend is enough to set my dermis back a few months?  I've had issues with adhesive itch in the past (click here for a gross photo from a few years ago), but nothing like what's cropped up since late August. 

I thought about ripping the Dexcom off and letting my skin breathe for a few weeks.  And then a symptom-free 53 mg/dL slapped me across the face while I was alone with my kid, and that shook my senses loose again.  The tighter my blood sugars run, the crummier my hypoglycemic unawareness becomes.  I am not willing to take the risk on either side. 

I'm longing for summer, when my skin will (hopefully) relax and I can resume my robotic tendencies without all of this surface tension and bid a hopeful farewell to the itch.

[Dexcom disclosure]  

Comments

Although my skin issues are very mild compared to yours, it is very common for me to have "circle/oval welts" from old sites reappear when a current site gets itchy and inflamed. I've always thought it was incredibly weird that my body has such a memory of old sites and you're right that the itching can become unbearable. Luckily for me I can pop two Benadryl tabs and it's gone in a couple of hours or at most a day. No advice for you unfortunately, but I feel your itch.

Oh honey. I am so sorry that you have to deal with this. It's so unfair.

Gah Kerri that SUCKS. I have no advice either, but I'm sorry for your delicate tendencies. (Hah!)

I'm longing for summer along with you. Your skin saga is heartbreaking.

I have no idea if this would help your skin heal, but my friend who struggles with skin irritation resulting in red bumps (not from adhesive or devices) has been using coconut oil (from the cooking aisle) to moisturize it and her bumps are disappearing.

Have you tried using any of Cetaphil's Restoraderm? We have to use that on E to keep him from breaking out during the winter with Eczema. We use the cream and the body wash. Could be worth a try?

Oh man - what a crappy situation. Who would have ever thought those way old sites would come back to haunt you? It's pure craziness.

I think you're going to have to try a prescription like singulair.

I know this may sound weird, but - when my husband was an Army recruiter, one of his recruits was kicked out of basic because he was allergic to the cold. For real! Could that be part of the problem? So sorry you're having this. So sorry!

Any thought of trying an old fashioned metal needle infusion set, if any remain on earth??

Sorry friend. Amazing how different we all area as my dexcom sensors are just fine, but my MM pump sites-MAKE ME WANT TO SCRACTCH MY SKIN OFF. Rather than try anything, I just deal with it. Maybe I should try something.

I am so sorry this is happening to you. It's maddening to read, let alone live! Could you have developed a new allergy (pretty sure you've already thought of that)? Going back to MDI would sucketh.

This has been happening to me too for about a year now - I'll get raised little red areas shaped like a site/sensor after taking them out (and scratching furiously, mind you!). I've started using this thing called Skin Prep IV (made by smith & nephew) and its made it a thousand times better. It rubs on like alcohol swabs and creates a little barrier between the adhesive - and your skin it's helped me a TON, might be worth a try for you.

So sorry to hear about about your sensitive, itchy skin. I'm an esthetician and I am always trying new products for both face and body, and my latest obsession is by Farmaesthetics (a Rhode Island company that makes all natural skin care products, and whose motto is "Fine Herbal Skincare From the Farm") Their Hand to Heel salve is amazing....made with sweet almond oil, beeswax, calendula flower extract, soybean oil and other natural goodies, it healed my chapped, raw, sensitive hands almost overnight. I had also exhausted the options in the itchy skin aisle. Might be worth a try. (I don't work for Farmaesthetics or get any kind of commission, by the way!)
And also? Nothing excites me more than the promise of a gross picture! So thank you for that.

know anyone in Hawaii who you could house sit for in the winter months to test out "the elements" theory?

Be really really careful with the reactions - especially if they seem to be getting worse. It took me a few months to figure out the cause of occasional but worsening hives (NSAIDS specifically ibuprofen), and by then, it was affecting breathing, too.

I was just about out of sensors and thought about waiting to order more for financial reasons, but then a few syptom free lows hit me and I can't go without it anymore.

Sounds like contact dermatitis where the adhesive comes into cotact with your skin. I have had that happen and know how infuriating the itch can be. I would try to find out what is used in the adhesive and change to a different type of adhesive and see if that would help.
Also carry some allergy medication with such as benadryl and see if hat would at least lessen the severity of the itch till you figure out what ingredient in the adhesive is causing the unbearable itch.

My daughter had a similar reaction, only her's appeared within a few hours. I believe the Dexcom uses the same adhesive (Hypafix) as the Omnipod, which is what she wears. We tried a lot of things to keep her on the Omnipod, and we were very close to going back to shots until we ordered some Bard's Barrier swabs. Like the IV prep (didn't have good results there), we wipe it on the area of skin it will go on prior to putting the pod on. It leaves an invisible film barrier that is slightly wet until it dries. The barrier completely remedied the flaming red hot skin sites. I've heard IV 3000 is another option, bit it's $$.

Scrolled through the comments and have similar advice to 'Ria from a few people above.

I didn't have skin trouble (other than a reaction to IV Prep) until after my move. Florida was really good for my skin. Now I think we can have a rash competition.

Spring?

I also get "burns" (red, inflamed, irritated skin) from my infusion sets. I haven't figured out why but my doc has seen them and is not concerned. I use the IV preps and unlike the other commenter think they may be part of the problem. (It's very much winter weather where I live, too- darn it!)

I used to get the crazy welts but it was all fixed with skin tac until I found out I was pregnant and now even with skin tac, iv prep, and tagederm they have come back with a vengeance.

This is so my life right now! Each "love handle" has a dexcom-shaped rash on it. One if them is scaly, and the other just showed back up as you described. It is strange, though, because this allergy has only recently developed. I ordered some of those tough pads.

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