Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Dexcom rash’

The Follow Up About Dexcom.

Today is Day 7.  I’ll be pulling this sensor off in six hours.

Day 7. No filter. No rash. No worries. #dexcom

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

No rash.  No filter.  Does this mean no worries?

(For reference, this post is a follow up from a week ago when I put on a Dexcom G5 sensor and transmitter without a barrier underneath the sensor.  For the last four and a half years, I’ve had an allergic/irritation response to the sensor.  Big, scaly rashes would blister up and take weeks to heal … like the one currently on my left thigh.  But rumor had it that sensors with an expiration date past 8/17/2017 were not causing this rash reaction.  

So I tried a 11/2017 expiration-dated sensor and the result?  No rash. NO RASH! The only issue I noticed was some blood around the transmitter after inserting it, but I wonder if that happens more often than I realize and the Toughpad had previously kept the blood from being visible. Whatever the case, I’m not itchy yet and I’m really, really hopeful that this rash issue is tabled forever. Next question is what to do with the box of sensors that has a pre-August 2017 expiration date …)

The One About Expiration Dates.

On the Dexcom and Libre Rash Facebook group, I saw a note posted back in December from someone referencing sensors with an expiration date after August 17, 2017.

“Dex recently changed their mfg process to eliminate a substance that caused rashes in some. Get some expiration date AFTER 8/15/17 …”

Huh.  Interesting.  (Read: HOLY SHIT COULD THIS BE TRUE??!!) I’ve been experiencing a Dexcom adhesive rash since 2012 and despite many conversations with clinicians and diabetes device industry specialists, no one has a solution for this issue.  (No one openly acknowledges this issue, either, which I find weird.)  For several years, I thought I was the only one having a rash reaction to the sensor adhesive, but then the Facebook group popped up and holy shit, there are a lot of us.  (The group currently has over 1900 members.)

Since 2012, I’ve tried several workarounds for this rash issue.  Steroid inhaler spray, barrier tapes, the blessed JnJ Toughpad … nothing eliminates the rash completely but the Toughpad does the best job of giving me seven days of sensor wear.  Fine.  The data and protection I get from using a CGM is worth the itch.  (See also: two solid pregnancies, two healthy kids, an A1C I’m happy with, and a marked decrease in overnight hypoglycemic events.  See also also:  “hypoglycemic events” is a stupid name)

Expiration investigation.

A post shared by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

My previous sensor shipment has an expiration date of August 7, 2017.  The shipment I received last week expires in November 2017.  Even though I have a couple August expiration sensors left to use, I’m skipping ahead.  I want to know if the rumors are true.

New one goes in in a few hours.  Here’s hoping.

 

Dexcom Rash: Updated.

Frigging rash.  The issue first presented itself back in August 2012, leaving me scratching my head and itching my sensor sites for the next four years.

At first, I tackled the problem by trying a pile of different barrier tapes, but the only one that brought about any semblance of relief was the Toughpad.  For about a year, I used a Flovent inhaler (sprayed on my skin before applying the CGM sensor), but I was cautioned against it by my first dermatologist, who cited that the skin would become thinner and compromised after prolonged use.  For the last few years, I’ve used the Toughpad exclusively, and it’s held the rash at bay.

Sort of.

It’s never ever perfect.  I’m still itchy as eff sometimes when I’m in the midst of using a sensor (like right now, with my sensor on my right thigh and the skin around the Toughpad is bright red and I want to scratch it off until my nails break but the low alarm that went off two nights ago saved my ass entirely so I’m leaving the sensor on as long as I can stand it).  The rash doesn’t seem to be concentrated underneath the Toughpad as much as before, but now I appear to be allergic to the Opsite Flexifix tape.  Add that to the fact that I get skin irritation even if I put the new sensor next to any place where a sensor has even BEEN for the last month.

A week or two ago, I went to the dermatologist to further investigate my Dexcom rash and to hopefully find different ways to scratch that itch, so to speak.

The new dermatologist circled me like a shark, only maybe a shark in search of medical journal material.  “You’re having an allergic response to the medical device adhesive?”

“Yes.  Since 2012.”

He paused.  “So just don’t use that medical device?”

“Not an option.”  (Totally not an option, especially these days, when I can’t feel my low blood sugar symptoms and I don’t take action on my high blood sugar symptoms unless the CGM is alarming.  This is why I wear a CGM.  And while I’m taking care of two little kids, this is why I will continue to wear my CGM.)

“Okay …” said the dermatologist, looking at my arm and thighs again, assessing the skin damage.  “A Flovent inhaler, too?  You mentioned using that in the past?”

“Yes, but after being warned it would thin out my skin, I stopped.”

“Good call.  Listen, I think we can try two things:  a topical steroid cream, or a non-steroid topical cream.  I would like try the non-steroid one first, because the same skin-thinning issue would happen otherwise.”  He handed me a prescription.

We scheduled a follow up appointment and I was sent on my scratchy way.  The cream, it turns out, comes with a dozen different creepy warnings that have made me very reluctant to try it while breastfeeding my son, but I did put a little bit on my rash and, within the hour, my rash was on fire and the urge to itch was all consuming.  I’m not touching this stuff again until after I’m done breastfeeding, and even then I’ll be very conservative, in case I’m allergic to this shit, too.

I’m not sure what people are doing these days to manage their adhesive irritations, but I’m reaching the end of my available skin real estate.  Any advice out there? It’s been a very long few years of wearing the CGM 24/7 and I’ve just about run out of sites that aren’t already scaly and raw.  I hear rumors about a “sensitive” adhesive being released by the Dexcom team, and about certain elements being removed from the current adhesive makeup, but until those products are shipped to my house and not sending my skin into circus mode, I’m at an itchy loss.

Rasharoni.

As this pregnancy continues on, so does the rapid rounding-out of my abdomen (today’s issue = not being able to zip my jacket without over-taxing the zipper). Feeling quite like Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Pluses to this expansion are that a. the pregnancy is progressing on schedule and b. the real estate options for my pump site and Dexcom sensor are literally broadening.  Which is useful, since my adhesive rash is in full rawr mode.

In response to rashes that are taking weeks to heal properly (they aren’t oozing or anything gross, but a particularly cold day or a too-hot shower will make the area where the sensor and any tape was get madly scaly, red, and itchy), I’ve needed to really mix up where my diabetes devices are applied.  I put a sensor on my lower left-side abdomen for the first time in almost a decade and it hurt like hell going in but did not leave a residual rash when I removed it.

New skin holds up better than my favored spots, but with only seven days of wear and an aversion to abdomen sites, it’s getting tricky.  At the Friends for Life Falls Church conference in DC this past weekend, there was discussion in several groups about rash strategies, but I can’t recall everything that everyone said.  (If you have tips on dealing with skin irritation, please share them!)

I am seeing a dermatologist again this week to see if they can offer any relief/advice/assistance, so there is hope.  For now, Toughpads, DermaSarra lotion, and site rotation are my best defense.  Because hope remains an itch I refuse to scratch … especially when there are so many other bits of me that need scritch-scratching.

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.]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers