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Lower Arm Real Estate.

“Rotating sites?  Hell yeah, I rotate.”

… sort of.

I’m good about rotating my pump and CGM (continuous glucose monitor) sites, but I’m decent, at best, about exploring new real estate.  Most of the time, I use my outer thigh or lower back/hips for my CGM, going back and forth between those four areas.  This sounds like proper rotating, in theory, but in practice, I am re-using and abusing the same patches of skin.

Because my skin has a persistent and scaly reaction to the sensor adhesives, it takes several weeks for parts of me to heal after they do their seven days of data due diligence.  Which means that I need to stay the eff away from my last two most recent sensor sites, or else a skin reaction blooms in a matter of hours, regardless of preventative measures.

tl;dr – My skin hates everything and I need new real estate for my diabetes devices.

I’ve seen a few of my PWD friends sporting their sensors on their arms, but until recently, I’ve never been able to keep an arm sensor stuck.  On me, the tape always comes loose and even extra adhesive goes rogue on me.  Arm sensors, up where I used to pinch up and do injections on the back of my arm, are a disaster for me.

But a few days ago, I took a crack at a lower arm sensor, placing it six inches or so above my elbow.  It’s more on the front of my arm (giving my bicep a strangely LEGO’ish look), but so far, so good.  The adhesive is staying put, the Toughpad seems fine, and no skin irritation here on day three.

Above the elbow Dexcom sensor. #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Placement of sensor on arm. My arm. (Why does this caption sound so formal?! Over and out.) #diabetes

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

I’ve been having trouble keeping sensors comfortably stuck in the last few weeks, so I’m hoping a true and proper site rotation helps heal what ails me.  Otherwise, I may scratch my skin into oblivion and will be forced to slather it with Brad Pitt lotion.

[Dexcom disclosures. And all my other disclosures, if you’d like some light reading.]

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deb #

    This was helpful, thank you!

    09/28/15; 11:00 am
  2. Martha #

    I wonder if it’s the length of time I’ve had diabetes (so lots of time to develop scar tissue) or just that I need to not use the soft cannula infusion set with my pump, but I get kinked cannulas like every 4th time. The site rotation maps are all well and good but how the hell do we keep track of where we’ve been short of marking ourselves with sharpies?

    09/28/15; 12:42 pm
  3. Ashley Wentz #

    Hello! I stumbled across your blog on the pump peels site. My 3 year old has had a lot of trouble with the adhesives on the sites. Like you stated in your blog, they were scaly and itchy for her too. I read somewhere to try the Flonase nasal spray. It has an antihistamine in it so I tried it. I spray it after cleaning with alcohol and before I apply her skintac and it works like a charm no more scaly skin, no itching, and no big red bumps either! It is kind of pricey, but it helped her! Thought I would share!

    09/28/15; 9:00 pm
  4. Jen #

    Love. Love. Arm sites. Use them for 2 weeks a sensor. Put Opsiteflexifix 4″ roll piece on at the time of insertion (with the Hole for the transmitter cut out of it). Have not had any skin issues yet from Dex. **knocking on wood**

    09/28/15; 9:39 pm
  5. Can you put ace bandage type “tape” around the CGM site on your arm? They make all kinds of colors now. Would that help it stay on? (Though I know it won’t address the allergic skin issue.)

    09/29/15; 1:05 am
  6. Christine #

    I use my arms exclusively for my CGM sites. I usually keep the Dexcom sensors on for about 2 weeks, and by the end of 2 weeks I need some kind of tape to keep it on. I’ve been using Opsite Flexifix, but after 5 years of wearing the sensors on my arms, my arms are starting to get rash-y. I just recently started using K-Tape, which I like better because it doesn’t irritate my skin and I can change it out without pulling the sensor off.

    10/6/15; 4:17 pm
    • Changing it out without pulling the whole site off is KEY. That’s why I like the metipac (not sure if I’m spelling that right) tape, because it can be peeled off and a new piece plunked back on.

      10/6/15; 9:18 pm

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