Summer! I love almost everything about summer. In fact, living in Florida I don’t even have to deal with winter much, and I like it that way. I’m all about humidity, palm trees, and flip flops.
Diabetes in warm weather, however, can add a whole new dimension to the way I think about summer. Between the heat and frequent trips to the pool/beach, it can be tough to keep an insulin pump site dry and in place for as long as I’d like. Let’s face it, I’d like to be able to go more than a day or two without having to change it, especially given my less-than-stellar insurance plan (cue the small violin). And I’d really like to stop living in fear of the swimming pool knowing that the flimsy tape holding in my lifeline could loose it’s stick and fall off at any moment!
Seriously. I HATE the peeling tape. After countless summers full of what would have been sad face emojis 🙁 at every pool party back in the day, here’s what I’ve found most helpful. These are a couple of tips that have worked for me keep my insulin pump site in place through the water-sporting, humid, fry an egg on the sidewalk, dog days of summer. As with everything else on this site, this is not medical advice, this is just what works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you too, but talk to your own doc or health care provider about what’s best for you 🙂
1. use alcohol swabs to clean your site before inserting
2. IV Prep (or if you need hard core stick, Mastisol Liquid Adhesive) –these make the skin a little sticky and provide a barrier to help adhesive irritation. If you use these, an adhesive remover is not a bad idea because if the adhesive skin prep is working properly, the tape will be tough to remove once you’ve used it. If you don’t have an adhesive remover on hand, baby oil can work wonders.
3. Site Placement Is EVERYTHING! I wear a medtronic pump, and typically place sites low on my stomach or around my waistband area. The problem with summer is that these places have a tendency to be closer to clothing and, well, get sweatier. If you’re using a cordless pump like an omnipod, this might not be as big of an issue as you can use a spot like your arm (which honestly may or may not be better? I don’t wear and omnipod so I can’t say for sure).
For summer, I place the pump high on my torso..like, basically my back. I go as far back as I can comfortably reach just under my rib cage. I thought it would be insanely painful, and it took me a while to work up to trying it, but I was running out of real estate and needed some new sites to avoid scar tissue build up from using the same old areas over and over. It’s now one of my fave spots. Not only does it interfere less with my clothing (fewer accidental rip outs with waistband movement), but in general the site stays put much easier, for much longer, without tape issues.
4. Anti-Perspirant. Yep. (Not Deodorant.) It needs to be an antiperspirant-only spray (cannot be a gel or cream), and you spray it on the skin before inserting your infusion set. The antiperspirant acts to keep your skin dry, thus the site can stick better.
5. Tegaderm on the skin under the infusion set. This is where the Tegaderm tape goes on the skin first, and you insert the infusion set through the Tegaderm. This way the site is sticking to Tegaderm, not your skin. Less moisture, less chance for it to come off. You can even add another layer of tape on top of the site if you’re feeling particularly industrious.
6. On those days where you know you’ll be swimming or in the water, if you’re site is in good shape use extra tape or a waterproof bandaid to cover it. If your site is already peeling, and you attempt to place more tape on top, it could end up pulling your site out all together. If your site is already peeling or loose, I use extra tape to the spot where it’s peeling instead of over the whole site, and then pray for the best. On swim days I always make sure I have a back up infusion set on hand just in case.
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Those are my best tips and tricks. What do you do to keep your sites dry and help them last through the summer heat and water sports?!
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