Skin care for continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pumps

  • Skin damage and infection is not uncommon if using an insulin pump or CGM 

    Pump or CGM use may need to stop if skin is damaged and inflamed or infected

    Skin may be damaged by:

    • reaction to the glue on the tape causing itchiness and swelling
    • the sensor being stuck too tightly against the body
    • ripping of the skin when removing the tape
    • Scratching itchy skin, causing infections

    If your skin gets red, itchy or swollen contact a diabetes educator, and let your doctor know at your next diabetes clinic appointment. 

    Resource from Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes Skin Care 

    Handy tips to prevent skin problems

    • Start with clean and dry skin. Always clean off old tape marks 
    • Use a new site every time 
    • Give a recently used site a rest for 10 days before using again 
    • Keep a site chart –such as the one shown below. This is particularly important if you use two taped devices such as an insulin pump and CGM
    • Use the device guide for applying sensor and over-tape
    • Take tape off with a water based adhesive remover to minimize skin damage 
    • Take tape off gently - do not rip off
    • If redness, swelling or itchiness persists for more than 24 hours after tape removal, please seek advice from you diabetes team
    • Tell your diabetes educator or doctor if you have had eczema or skin reactions to tapes. Creams or lotions are available to minimise skin reactions 

    Allergy: the skin under the dressing may look red and raised or feel itchy. If you have an allergy speak to your diabetes educator.  You may need to try a different type of cannula or use a skin preparation (barrier) wipe

    Infection: Signs of an infection include redness, tenderness, pus, swelling and /or elevated BGLs. If redness is larger than ~ 1cm, see your GP as antibiotics may be required. Re-site the cannula well away from the infection

    Solutions for removing tape

    A cotton ball soaked in water based oil solutions and place over the tape can soften the tape and help removal

    Examples of solutions are: Tea tree oil, Lavender oil, Eucalyptus oil, Orange oil and Arnica oil.  ConvaCare® removal wipes or other tape removal solutions

    Solutions for cleaning skin

    Use solutions that do not dry the skin or do not cause a skin reaction

    Examples are: Chlorhexidine 0.5% in 70% alcohol solution or Chlorhexidine Prep pads – 2% chlorhexidine and 70% alcohol are these our recommended solutions

    Skin barriers in solution

    These are solutions applied to the skin either as a spray or wipe which acts as a barrier to the adhesive on the tape

    Examples: ConvaCare® protective barrier wipes or protective barrier solutions or sprays

    Tapes acting as Skin barriers

    If you have skin irritation to the device tape you can use other tapes

    Examples are: Mefix® tape, Tegadem®, Opsite® ExpressionsMed®

    Anti-inflammatory ointment

    Anti-inflammatory ointments can be prescribed by your doctor if your skin becomes irritated. Please discuss any concerns early with your diabetes educator or doctor