Skin Irritation from Diabetes Devices


Diabetes devices like continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps are amazing advancements in the way we manage. The ability to precision dose insulin? Awesome. Being able to see blood sugar levels in context and with trend arrows? Also awesome.

But despite the advancements in technology, wearing a diabetes device can take a toll on your body's largest organ: your skin. In the last few years, there have been many issues with skin irritation as a result of diabetes devices, and many people with diabetes are dealing with scaly, itchy skin as a result.

There are a few ways you can help mitigate skin irritation:

Site Rotation - Just like with injections, it's important to rotate your device locations. Try to move at least two inches away from your last insertion point and, if you can, pick entirely different patches of skin real estate with each adhesive application. Rotating your sites can help keep your skin from becoming compromised and helps promote healing.

Use a Barrier - Do you need a layer of something between your skin and your medical device? Tapes like Tegaderm and Opsite Flexifix, in addition to thicker barriers like Johnson & Johnson Toughpad product, can provide enough of a barrier to keep irritation at a minimum.

Experiment with Tapes - Overlay tapes can help keep devices from shifting on your skin. Dexcom provides an overlay tape as part of their product catalog, and several third party companies and designers offer tapes (both sticky and decorative) to help keep devices stuck. (We have some of those options listed here.)

Stay Hydrated - Hydration sounds like the fix-it for everything, but when it comes to keeping your skin soft, supple, and quicker to heal, hydration is key. Make sure you are drinking enough water so that your skin retains moisture better, and heals more readily.

Consult a Dermatologist - When all else fails, or even as a first line of defense, a dermatologist can help you deal with the skin irritation and contact dermatitis that sometimes crops up as a result of device adhesives. If your skin is chronically itchy and reacting to adhesives, consult your dermatologist for an assessment and assistance.