Diabetes Self-Management Blog

I use an insulin pump. The insulin is delivered into my system subcutaneously from the pump through a couple dozen inches of surgical tubing, then finally through a cannula that pokes a few millimeters into my skin. For nonpumpers out there who aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, Smiths Medical (while they still support diabetes supplies for another few years) has a 12-step series of photos online that will enlighten you as to how this stuff looks —my stuff, at least, since I use the Cleo Infusion Set.

For a while the difficulties I had with keeping my infusion site attached to my skin were few and far between. I had the system down: I’d go through the 12 steps (more or less) and all would be fine. A couple of times I found the site hanging by a thread of adhesive, cannula disengaged from my body and no longer infusing insulin into me. This site loss often depended on where I adhered it to my person, because I’d either knock the set off getting into the car or rolling over in bed or shifting how I was sitting on the couch, or I would sweat at the gym or in the yard and the site would slide off as it brushed against my clothing.

I thought I’d found a solution to the site slippage by applying a site dressing on top of my infusion set. I’d simply cut a small hole in the two-and-a-half by three-inch flimsy Band-Aid-looking site dressing and, unsightly though it might be to move from a quarter-sized site to a quarter-sized site with a shiny pinkish bandage over it, went about my business.

The first brand of site dressing I used, the IV3000 1-Hand from Smith & Nephew, wouldn’t stay stuck to my skin, especially when there was any moisture (read sweat) involved. So for exercise or yard work, IV3000 was a strikeout.

I switched to the ReliaMed Transparent Thin Film IV Site Dressing (a mouthful) about eight months ago and discovered a new freedom with my insulin pump: the infusion set stayed attached, stayed stuck!, and I could exercise and move around without worrying that I’d prematurely lose yet another expensive infusion set.

Then, a month or so ago, out of nowhere, I developed a rash at the edges of the site dressing. I had put on the ReliaMed site dressing, and the next day scabby little sores dotted the circumference of my site. And it itched — oh how it itched.

So in an online quest to find meaningful information about an annoying insulin-pump infusion-site rash problem, I soon realized that I was far from alone in this development of an allergic reaction to the adhesive. Maybe you’ve experienced it? If so, what have you done? If you haven’t and you’re curious, try a Google search for something such as “insulin pump site adhesive rash” and you’ll uncover a wealth of tips and tricks and recommendations for ways to deal with the rash, which I won’t go into here.

See, for me, for now, I’ve simply gone back to a site-dressingless infusion site. Although I may lose a few of the Cleo sites here and there as I go about my daily business, I’m not keen on trying more dressings right now, nor do I wish to find a medical solution (topical ointments, etc.). I already have a gel that I use for the rosacea on my cheeks (face cheeks! Come on.) (I wrote about the rosacea at the end of this entry). The gel’s working, and the rosacea’s no longer visible. But adding another prescription to the long line of pharmaceuticals on the medical pantry shelf isn’t something I’m interested in.

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