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.
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.