FUDiabetes

Avoiding Sensor Adhesive Irritation

In the last 5-10 years, I’ve noticed an increase in skin sensitivity (things like most adhesives, strong soaps, hot water–even hot tubs). I didn’t think about it much - my motto was “it is what it is”!

Then a few months after my T1 Dx in 2015, I knew I wanted to start using a Continuous Glucose Monitor. Honestly, I put off getting one because I knew that adhesives didn’t like my skin! So I read everything I could about sensor adhesive irritation/ allergies and and strategies other diabetics shared about how to mitigate the problems.

Here is the process I decided to used when I got my DEX G5. I’ve used this with every sensor so far. I typically get 20-25 days per sensor with little to no irritation:

  • Clean skin where sensor will be placed AND let dry completely.
    * My preferred sensor locations - back of upper arm or calf.

  • Before removing the shiny, slick backing from a Hydrocolloid Adhesive Pad, place the DEX sensor adhesive to top (non-adhesive side).

    • Millz Tip
      * There are many brands of Hydrocolloid Adhesive Pads available (Band-Aid Tough Pads work best for me)
      * Different brands can have different adhesive chemical compositions.
      * Buy a few different brands/ types and test drive them first, without a sensor. Better to find out without wasting a sensor.
      * Try them out in the same location you expect to place the sensor. See if how your skin handles them and pick the one that suits you best.
      * The DEX sensor fits well ones that are 2.8 x 2.4 inches and I buy them in bulk on Amazon.
      * Press the sensor adhesive firmly to ensure it’s secured well and evenly to the adhesive pad.
  • Remove the plastic backing form the adhesive pad with sensor attached and place on skin, press firmly and evenly into place.

  • Follow regular sensor insertion steps.

    • For me, the sensor punches through the adhesive pad very easily.
  • Cover adhesive pad/sensor adhesive with Transparent film dressing, press firmly and evenly in place.

    • I use Tegaderm Film, 6 cm x 7 cm size – and need 2 of these.
    • The same Millz Tip listed above applies here as well.
    • I tried a number of options for this step and realized quickly that I could only handle Opsite Flexifix for 1 or 2 days at most.
    • I cut a notch out of the side of each that covers everything except the Transmitter with a minimum of at least a 1/2 inch or more of film around all edges to hold the whole thing in place for 3 weeks.

Here is a picture of my current sensor; I just restarted it for a 3rd time a few minutes ago. :upside_down_face:

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This is GREAT, @Millz!

Any chance you could give us Amazon links for the supplies you mention?

Exactly where on the calf do you put the sensor? And do you set the sensor on your arm alone or with assistance?

I always handle the insertions on my own and this placement is on the most meaty part of the back of my calf, a few inches below the back of the knee.

I’ll post links a bit later tonight. Next sensor replacement I’ll take pics of some of the steps in the process.

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Updated April 2018 - I’ve used a variation of this from the start - with both the Dex CGM and Omnipod. Sensors stay put for 20-25 days with little to no irritation (PODs have no issue staying put for 3 days):

Clean skin where sensor will be placed AND let dry completely.

  • Preferred Sensor locations - back of calf or upper arm.

  • Preferred POD locations - thigh (front and side); upper arm; sides between hips and rib cage; back of lower back.

I buy rolls of Tegaderm transparent film on Amazon in two different widths: 2 in (5 cm) and 4 in (10 cm). Here is a link to one -

3M Health Care 16004 Dressing, Transparent Film Roll, 4" x 11 yd. Size https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AWCD0I4/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_tai_YJH1Ab1C2ZECC

Tip –

  • There are many brands of transparent film available (Tegaderm works well for me).

  • Different brands can have different adhesive chemical compositions.

  • Buy a few different brands/ sizes and test drive them first, without a sensor/POD. Better to find out without wasting equipment.

  • Try them out in the same location you expect to place the sensor/POD. See if how your skin handles them and pick the one that suits you best.

Cut a smaller piece of transparent film big enough to put a sensor/POD on it with about an inch of film around all edges.

Cut a larger piece of transparent film with a portion cut out of the middle so it fits over the sensor/POD with about an inch of over lap on all sides.

Tip -

  • To easily cut the opening in transparent film for the sensor/POD, I made 2 cardboard templates the exact sizes of the if the transparent film needed.

  • Each template has a cutout (one is the size of the Dex sonsor, the other the size of the POD).

  • Before removing the shiny, slick backing from the transparent film, I place the sensor/POD on the Tegaderm, trace the shape of the cutout needed, then fold the Tegaderm in half, and with scissors start the cut out, unfold the Tegaderm and cut the rest of it.

  • A cutout is only needed on the larger piece that goes on top/ over the sensor/POD.

  • It only takes me a minute to cut the 2 pieces of Tegaderm and then trace the hole and cut it out. Periodically, I cut out enough for 10 POD changes and 5 sensor changes and put them in my D go bag with extra PODs/sensors. Then I’m set for a while!

Remove the plastic backing from the smaller piece of Tegaderm transparent film, place it on the site and press firmly and evenly into place.

Follow regular sensor/POD insertion steps (the sensor/POD punches easily through the film).

Cover sensor/POD adhesive with larger transparent film and press firmly and evenly in place.

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What a great idea @Millz! I am going to try this technique with the next sensor change as I have started to get rashes after a week or so of wear.

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Thank you for this fantastic tutorial!

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This illustrates the importance of testing out differnet brands. I also have issues with allergies and sensitive skin (and eczema).

I can’t use Tegaderm. It gets super itchy and my skin gets really irritated after a day or two. But I have no problems with Opsite Flexifix.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together! This is really informative and very clear!

Great advice!

I received a box of skin barrier wipes from a wound care place I was visiting with my mom and I’ve been using that on EH’s skin before Dex and Pod application, and I think it has helped. I’ve also bought Sim Patch adhesive tapes with cutouts for the Dex and Pods. The Sim Patch does look a little like a giant Band-Aid, and honestly draws attention to both the Dexcom and the OmniPod – but I kind of feel like the attention would be more fun if it were shaped like a rocket ship or a unicorn (Grif Grips were my first choice, but I waited too long to order them before our last trip so I went with the Sim patches this time). :slight_smile: I think buying them for the Dex has helped keep it on longer. However, we hadn’t really had a huge problem with the pod – only sometimes when rock climbing or doing more intense activity does it get snagged and ripped off. With the barrier cream and the patches, he hasn’t had an issue with major skin sensitivity - I think his skin is less irritated than it was before. I’m sure, as @Jen points out, everyone’s mileage will vary on what annoys their skin. Luckily, these things are working for us presently.

Safe n’ Simple Skin Barrier No-Sting Wipes, 25 Count https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DUEEEYQ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_gO01AbJPS3ZYQ

SIMPATCH Adhesive Patch for Dexcom - Pack of 25 - Available in 4 Colors (Tan) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06VVJD56Z/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_XU01AbJ2WJ1EA

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Is the hydrocolloid adhesive pad that you use under the sensor the kind that has adhesive around the edges and none in the center? I found some for wounds and blisters but not sure if they would be too thick.

I’ve used a number of different brands. They all had adhesive on the whole bandage.

Lately, I’ve been using thin Tegaderm under both Pods and Dex G6 sensors.

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