The itch started back in July 2012, when I pulled off a Dexcom sensor and saw a prickly, hive-ish rash underneath where the sensor and transmitter had been placed. Blaming it on the summer heat and the recycled, dry air of airplane cabins, I figured it was a one-time thing and I’d be sorted out on the following sensor placement.
Which ended up being an “oh hell no – here’s a big, fat rash from the adhesive” experience instead. I don’t know what changed (the adhesive? my body’s chemistry? my skin sloughed off overnight and was replaced by Super Sensitive Skin?), but I do know that I need to take some extra precautions to this day in order to comfortably wear my Dexcom sensor.
A search phrase that leads folks to SUM is often “Dexcom rash,” so I wanted to make sure that information was easily findable. Not being able to wear the Dexcom due to adhesive reaction/allergy was frustrating, so if this information can help make life easier for PWD who want CGM data, I’m all in.
Here is some decidedly NON-MEDICAL, ANECDOTAL (talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medical regimen, please and thank you) solutions aimed at avoiding the Dexcom rash.
I’ve used a few different methods to help keep the Dexcom stuck, or to avoid the rash, but the regimen that has been tried-and-true and actually working for the last year and a half is this:
- After showering, make sure the skin is completely dry.
- In the colder months, when the air is dry and the heat in the house makes my skin particularly sensitive, I spray a blast or two of steroid inhaler on my skin where the sensor is to be placed. This is a method I learned about from a reader, and discussed with my endocrinologist before trying. She thought I was bananas, but she gave me the go-ahead anyway.
- After applying the inhaler blast (but in mild weather, without applying it), I placed a Johnson & Johnson Tough Pad against my skin. (It’s like a thick, gel-ish bandaid.)
- I stick the Dexcom sensor over the Tough Pad (so that none of the sensor adhesive is touching my skin) and insert the sensor straight through the Tough Pad.
- Then it’s business as usual – stick the transmitter in and start up the receiver!
Usually I can get the recommended seven days without having any kind of skin flare up, and when the sensor starts to peel away prematurely, I stick some Opsite Flexifix tape onto the loose bits to keep things stuck.
And that’s it. It’s not medical advice, but it is a way to bypass the potential rash and to continue use of a medical device I rely on to help keep me safe. I hate itching … unless it’s that advocacy itch.