Adhesives and Sensitive Skin
Last updated: October 2022
Having hives also comes with having sensitive skin. In addition to being incredibly reactive to certain adhesives, my skin is so fragile that it will tear when it's removed. So this poses a problem when I have to wear any kind of adhesive medical device. And, as luck would have it, I have to wear a continuous glucose monitor frequently due to severe episodes of hypoglycemia.
Because my skin is so sensitive, I’ve had to get creative with how I apply my sensor so that it doesn’t cause me to break out in a rash or tear my skin off when I remove it.
Please note that the following is not medical advice. I am not a medical professional and what works for me may or may not work for you.
Prepping for adhesive application
When I first started wearing a glucose monitor, I spent a good deal of time scouring the internet for ways to protect my skin. I knew before I even put on the first sensor that I would have to be extra careful and take additional steps so that I didn’t react. I have developed a very specific process for applying my sensor, something that I’ve fine-tuned to work for me.
Cleaning and exfoliating
The first thing I do is clean the area really well. I use soap and water to clean my skin and gently exfoliate the area where the sensor will go. Note, I said gently exfoliate, any more and it leaves my skin more vulnerable to react to the adhesive.
I talked to my doctor about my problems with adhesives and he recommended using a light layer of steroid spray to protect the skin. You can get nasal steroid sprays over the counter that are perfect to use for this purpose. I spray a light layer on my skin and allow it to dry before moving on to the next step. The steroid helps keep my skin from getting inflamed from the adhesive.
Benadryl also comes in a spray form, so after a layer of steroid spray, I put on two light layers of Benadryl. The Benadryl spray helps to stave off any potential irritation from the actual adhesive allergy.
Last, but certainly not least, I use a skin barrier. A skin barrier does exactly what the name says, it provides a layer of protection between the skin and whatever is applied to it. The barrier is also sticky, which helps the adhesive stick to the skin. You would think that this additional sticky layer would make it difficult to take the adhesive off without tearing my skin, but by the time I remove my sensor two weeks later the stickiness has worn off enough that it doesn’t cause a big problem.
After all these layers I apply the sensor, making sure it is stuck down really well. Finally, I use a hypoallergenic patch to cover the sensor and make sure it’s nice and secure for the next two weeks.
Adhesives are definitely tricky with sensitive skin, but there are definitely ways to help protect the skin and prevent irritation.
Do you have any tips or tricks for protecting your skin from adhesives? Let us know in the comments.
How well do you feel you manage your chronic hives?