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Dexcom Rash.

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.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tim Steinert #

    The other aspect the is difficult for me to handle (being a dude) is the little tiny hairs on my stomach that don’t feel so little or tiny at 4 in the morning and my sensor needs replacing. Does anyone have something they do for that. Nair?

    Removing that Flexifix tape with any hair on the area involves patience and a pair of sharp scissors!

    06/25/14; 11:55 am
  2. John #

    Kerri, you did this one for me, didn’t you?!?! :) I did a Dexcom Rash Adhesive search over the weekend, because I knew I had read about some solutions somewhere. There was a Glu user having major Dexcom adhesive issues, so I wanted to help. I’ll send her this latest blog, as well. I feel bad for you folks with sensitive skin, but glad this is working for you.

    06/25/14; 11:41 pm
  3. Jill #

    Thanks so much Kerri! This post is what drew me to your blog in the first place (Thanks Google!), and I have been following for months now. I’ve started using the same approach (minus the inhaler, because I live in TX and it’s rarely cold) for my Dexcom. It has helped the rash tremendously. However, the gel/glue/adhesive in the tough pad begins to break down right around the time I am re-setting my sensor (Day 7). The gel – once it is breaking down, or what appears like melting, causes an even worse irritation than the dexcom adhesive.

    Has anyone else experienced this? A quick fix would be to just pull it off right at 7 days before the tough pad starts breaking down. However, being delightfully frugal – I’d love getting a few more days out of it without totally destroying my skin. Thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if anyone had other tips.

    08/20/14; 4:27 pm
  4. Gina #

    I never had sensitive skin, but about a month & a half after starting my Dexcom CGM, I developed the Dexcom rash. I tried the J&J Tough pad and it worked the first time. Second time I got the same (oval) rash under the square Tough pad. Now I rotate between the Tough Pad, and a large Curad Bandage – I think it’s 2 1/2 x 2 3/4 (I had read somewhere that Curad uses a different adhesive than most other bandages.) I have to cut down the Dexcom sensor pad just a little but it works – so far. I also apply Skin Prep before the bandage which seems to help it adhere longer than an “average” bandage. I saw an Allergist / Immunologist this week to see what suggestions they might have. (They didn’t have any.) But when I mentioned the asthma inhaler as I’ve read online, I was given a sample & a prescription. So I’ll be trying that tonight.

    08/23/14; 10:31 am
    • Christie #

      Gina–Have you seen any difference yet? I have struggled with adhesive issues on both the Medtronic sensor (years ago) and now the Dexcom. Have tried just about every suggestion I can find on the topic but to no avail. I, like you, saw a difference the fist time I tried a tough pad but after that, back to the same old problems of extreme sensitivity. I will try the Curad bandage. Keep us informed about whether or not you see a difference. Thanks.

      08/27/14; 4:49 pm

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  1. Best Intentions Need to Stick. - Six Until Me - diabetes blog
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