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A Wicked Rash.

When I was younger, my pediatric endocrinologist told me that I shouldn’t be poking the syringes into the parts of my skin that didn’t hurt.  “If you don’t feel the pinch of the needle, that means you have scar tissue building up, which can lead to poor absorption of the insulin.”  She stayed on me about rotating injection sites, and even though I didn’t like rotating to new spots that hurt a little, she was right.  The more I rotated, the better my skin felt and fewer egg-bumps of scar tissue formed under my skin.

… shame on me for not following that same rotation protocol when it comes to Dexcom sensors.  I wear mine almost exclusively on my outer thigh because that’s where they feel the best, stay put the best, and are least apt to peel away before their time is up.  For several years, this worked fine because I rotated within the thigh site, making sure not to reuse an area in the same month.  But once the Dexcom adhesive rash started, I was screwed because the skin was taxed not just by the sensor itself, but by the residual rash.

Dexcom rash management has been better lately because of precautionary measures, but sometimes the rash flares up as a result of ten different factors (all ones that itch).  Last week, I was traveling for work and kept applying Opsite Flexifix tape to my Dexcom sensor as it was starting to peel away (and yes, I had a spare sensor on me but still didn’t want to pull the one that was working.  I’m a stubborn human.)  I covered that thing with tape.  And for two days, it was great.  But then it started to turn a little red underneath the tape (not the sensor adhesive, but the skin underneath the tape).  After another day, it went entirely bananas and turned bright red and started to swell.

“I can feel the heat of the infection through my jeans,” I said out loud to Chris.  At which point, I realized I was a frigging idiot for not pulling the sensor off.

Off it came, and what lurked beneath was gross.  (“It was the worst Dexcom rash … I ever seen!!”  Actual Large Marge quote.)  No way was I going to take a picture for evidence because it was horribly nasty and I’m irresponsible for letting the cost/convenience/reinstallation of the sensor supersede the integrity of my skin.  What was underneath the Toughpad was completely fine, but every bit of skin that had come into contact with the Opsite tape alone was raised, red, and borderline blistering.

It took a week for that site to heal, and only after I carefully applied Neosporin and bandaged to it.  Which brought me to that unfortunate realization:  I suck at rotating my Dexcom sensor sites.  And I need to be better about it, especially since the data is very important to me.

So I’m trying out a new spot in efforts to give my thighs some time to properly heal.  For the last week, I’ve had a sensor on my lower hip and it has worked much better than I thought it would.  It’s just below the belt time on my outer hip (see Gingerbread Man for placement accuracy because holidays) and despite the rub of pants, etc. it is staying put and not peeling up.  I have a little bit of Opsite tape on the lower edge and so far, so good.

I hope this sensor can run its seven day course without leaving a mark.  Because otherwise … itch, please.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Martha #

    So how do you sleep with it anywhere but on your abdomen? It’s so big. And doesn’t it show through your pants? Questions, I have questions…I haven’t been using the sensor that long and have only used the abdomen, but with the size of the whole get-up I see that if I don’t find another body part to use, adequate rotation could easily become an issue.

    12/2/14; 1:47 pm
    • I hate diabetes devices on my abdomen. They feel uncomfortable, obvious, and they peel off faster than anywhere else. On my leg, it’s a bulge in my pants but not one that draws stares. 🙂

      12/2/14; 2:20 pm
      • Martha #

        I always wish the items we need to stick to our bodies could just be moved around depending on what we happen to be wearing. Ha! I haven’t had too much trouble with rashes but every once in a while I will get one at the sensor site. It’s crazy how it just all of a sudden appears and is itchy and angry out of nowhere.

        12/3/14; 12:54 pm
  2. Laddie #

    I recently had my first ever Dexcom rash and my sympathy for you has increased one hundredfold. I usually use my thighs and the back of my arms, but this one was on my lower ab because I was troubleshooting with Dex about recent accuracy problems and wanted to follow all of the rules. I always use Skin Tac and never tape until the second week. But this time I put the Opsite Flexifix on right away and I don’t know if that was related. For me it was just the oval part of the Dexcom patch. It was incredibly red, painful, and itchy and took about 4 days to heal.

    Hope it never happens again and I’m not sure why it happened this time and never has before. Current sensor is on the back of my upper arm (my favorite location) and is having no skin issues.

    Hope you find lots of new areas that will work for you:-)

    12/2/14; 1:52 pm
  3. Incidentally, just below the belt line has become a great place for infusion sites for me. Hope it works well as with sensor placement.

    12/2/14; 3:41 pm
    • Does it get peely at the edges faster, though? I hate premature peel on adhesives.

      12/2/14; 3:44 pm
  4. I’m so lucky to not have rash issues with Dexcom/OmniPod adhesives, certain types of bandaids will leave nasty red rashes on me in minutes.

    For the hip site area, did you place like exactly on your side or toward the back? I’ve been bad about rotating Dex and usually switch from cheek to cheek (tmi?). No matter where it is, the edges roll up quickly so I tape proactively.

    12/2/14; 4:35 pm
    • Imagine putting your hands on your hips in a “tsk tsk!” sort of manner. That’s where I put it, kind of towards the back. Upper butt cheek might be the technical term.

      12/2/14; 7:12 pm
      • Thanks for the clarification… and technical terms!

        12/3/14; 12:08 pm
  5. I have thin sensitive skin as well as allergies to many tapes. What works well under the Dexcom (Dex) for me is Skin Prep. You can get in on Amazon. Just take your time getting the padding off, or you could get a blister. I was told by Dexcom peeps to NOT put the prep where the prep is. So I wipe off with alcohol wipe, cycle an area. Apply the Skin Prep .

    12/3/14; 9:24 am
  6. andy #

    I’ve been placing the sensor on my front thigh area they seam to stick there best. This allows me to use my belly area for the pods. ( needed a break from pumping been off for 5 months, been wonderful but starting back next week) I’m an avid cyclists so obviously I need to place them carefully. Any body have any luck other than their belly with the omnipods? Tried my arms and back get very different absorption.

    12/3/14; 11:54 am
  7. Jochen #

    I wear my sensors on the arm. Backside if arm hangs loose. Workes great for me. Luckily my wife helps me “setting” the sensor.

    12/3/14; 1:12 pm
  8. More suggestions, in case you’re feeling up to experiments.

    I have had good success with another spray film: “3m Cavilon No-Sting Barrier Film – 28ml” (available off amazon and probably all sorts of pharmacies) works for me under infusion sites. However, I’ve not tested it under a much longer lasting CGM-sensor and the stuff stinks. Really quite badly. It’ll stop after an hour, but bleh.

    For additional duck-tape affixing: Rounding the corners of the patch might help reduce the premature peeling. Rectangular corners peel slightly faster and then tend to stick to the insides of shirts and such leading to messy disasters.

    12/4/14; 7:00 am
  9. lap #

    Backs of my arms are good in winter (in summer, tank tops plus sweating makes them peel off there SUPER fast). I like upper buttocks, sort of where you’re putting them, but just another 3 inches back and down, if that makes sense? Really good luck with them staying put there. While there’s a bump in certain paints and skirts, it would be very rude for anyone to look there long enough to see it 🙂

    12/5/14; 1:18 pm
  10. Alysha Heise #

    I keep hearing about these Dexcom issues. We’re trying a product called Coloplast. Curious to know if anyone has had any luck with it?

    12/5/14; 1:33 pm
    • Never heard of it. Where do you get it?

      12/5/14; 2:01 pm
      • Alysha Heise #

        I was able to find them on Amazon. They look just like a box of alcohol wipes, but they’re actually hospital grade “barrier” wipes. I think I learned about them from another parent on the children with diabetes forum. I can’t swear by them, as we’ve only been using them a few weeks total. But so far so good!

        12/5/14; 3:07 pm

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