August 25, 2021
Glucose monitors are a wonderful invention. Less drawing blood in public, less test strips to find when you vacuum, and more access to cool technology like closed loop systems.
They would be perfect if say...your Dexcom could just stay on for the full 10 days!
After 5 years of running ExpressionMed, I’ve generated 4 critical pieces of advice to help you get the perfect Dexcom adhesive tape wear time, every time.
If you think you are experiencing an allergic reaction, read my blog Troubleshooting the Dexcom Rash. If not, read on.
There are 4 major things you need to remember when it comes to Dexcom G6 tape longevity.
Let’s break it down:
For this reason, I cannot stress enough that if your G6 tape starts to lift or wrinkle on the edges, whether it is on day 4 or day 14, you need to secure it back down with a skin safe adhesive like skin tac. Some people like to put on a ring of skin tac on in the beginning, but I think it causes more clothing lint to stick to the adhesive. Instead, I recommend gently rubbing the adhesive to add heat and pressure right after you apply.
To be technical most adhesives take 12-36 hours to fully cure but adding a little heat and pressure can help the material be extra secure and cure a little faster.
Speaking of adhesive, don’t leave your Dexcom tapes out in the open! I made this tape thin and breathable for your skin, but that means air can go right through the surface and dry out the adhesive (the sticky part). Our mailing packages are resealable, if you remember to close them back up in the plastic, they will last much much longer.
If you’ve ever gotten superglue on your skin, you know that you will eventually shed it off, the same is true with wearable devices.
Unlike snakes we don’t shed our entire layer of skin in one go and live the next day with a fresh new layer that is perfectly primed for tape. Instead humans typically take 28 days to shed their outer layer of skin and we do this constantly, shedding about .0003 ounces every hour. As you can imagine, shedding skin flakes affect the tape's ability to hold on to your skin and cause it to lift off.
The biggest secret I found with our users who reset their monitor and keep one G6 tape on for an entire month (which I don’t medically recommend but I respect individual choices), is that they exfoliate their skin regularly. If you exfoliate your skin before applying a tape, you are removing skin cells that are closer to being shed and leaving a newer layer of skin which won’t shed for 28 days! My theory is that the 14 day limit on monitors is because it is half a skin cycle. You probably put on a monitor when half of your skin is already dead and lifting and by day 14 it’s hard to guarantee accurate readings and security because of the tape lifting off. You can double this wear time just by exfoliating.
This one is the hardest since something may not be irritating when it touches your skin once but it can be super itchy and uncomfortable when it is trapped under your skin for several days. These irritants can include scented soaps and lotions, pollen and dander from pets and the outdoors, and perfumes.
The best way to avoid itchy skin under a tape is to wash your skin with a scent-free soap. We used to say prep with an alcohol wipe because it removes oils and is a good disinfectant but be careful with this one, because it also removes the skins protective barrier leaving it susceptible to irritation and free radical damage, causing it to lose its elasticity over time.This can lead to chronic dry skin and faster skin aging.
I personally only recommend rubbing alcohol to those with especially oily skin, otherwise stick to soap and water. And that of course isn’t medical advice but it is based on a 3M study and has helped customers of mine avoid chronic dry skin.
Not only does fraying cause the tape to lift up sooner, but the thick material will absorb water after a shower making it heavier and more likely to fall off.
Air needs to get to your skin and sweat needs to get away from your skin and a material that doesn’t breathe will cause sweat to build up and lift up the tape early.
One of our most frequently asked questions is if our Dexcom G6 tape is hypoallergenic. It is, but so are all medical tapes, even ones that cause skin reactions. The reality is that hypoallergenic is not a clinical term. It is a marketing term that doesn’t have to be supported by science. Our tape went through clinical trials and tested for cytotoxicity, skin irritation after 21 days, and more, and all results were negligible meaning that our product is extremely safe for skin and we can safely assume that we can fix any irritation problem through skin care and tape removal advice.
I hope all of this advice helps! If you are struggling with longevity remember to glue down any lifting edges, exfoliate to remove dead skin cells, clean your skin gently to avoid irritation, and lastly choose your materials wisely and know what different claims mean!
If you have any lingering questions, always feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We're happy to troubleshoot individual situations.
Photo credit: @T1D.wifeylife, @SydneyT1D, @relatableT1D
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