August 25, 2021
Every tape company promises to keep your Freestyle Libe on perfectly for 14 days. But what do you do if your tape starts to lift on day 7? What do you do if even hypoallergenic material causes your skin to itch? Put the duct tape and gorilla glue away, and forget ripping off your sensor and returning to dreaded finger pricks. I have some advice that will save your skin and your fingertips.
After 5 years of running ExpressionMed, I’ve generated 4 critical pieces of advice to help you get the perfect Libre adhesive tape wear time, every time.
If you think you are experiencing an allergic reaction, read my blog about troubleshooting rashes. If not, read on.
4 of the top things to remember about Libre tape longevity
Let’s take a look:
How often does your skin shed? Well, If you’ve ever gotten superglue on your skin, you know that you will eventually shed it off. This is also true with wearable devices.
Since we're not like snakes, shedding our entire layer of skin in one go, we don't wake up the next day with a fresh layer that is perfectly primed for tape. Nope, we humans take about 28 days to shed our outer layer of skin. In fact, we do this constantly, shedding about .0003 ounces every hour. You can imagine how shedding skin flakes affect the tape's ability to hold on to your skin and cause it to lift off.
The top secret our users divulged about resetting their monitor and keeping one Freestyle Libre Tape on for an entire month (which I don’t medically recommend but respect individual choices), is that they regularly exfoliate their skin. By exfoliating your skin before applying a tape, you are getting rid skin cells that are closer to being shed and revealing a newer layer of skin which won’t shed for 28 days!
I have a theory that the 14 day limit on monitors is based on the skin cycle - half a skin cycle to be precise. Chances are, you are applying a monitor when half of your skin are already dead and lifting. This means by day 14 it would be hard to guarantee accurate readings and security because of the tape lifting off. Ultimately, you could double this wear time just by exfoliating.
I cannot stress enough that if your Libre tape starts to lift or wrinkle on the edges, whether it is on day 4 or day 14, it's important to secure it back down with a skin safe adhesive like skin tac. A few of our customers like to put on a ring of skin tac on in when they apply it, but I think it causes more clothing lint to stick to the adhesive. Instead, a tip I recommend is to gently rub the adhesive. This adds heat and pressure right after you apply helping to secure the tape.
On a technical note, it take most adhesives 12-36 hours to fully cure, but by adding a little heat and pressure, you can help the process along to secure the material and help cure it a little faster.
Speaking of adhesive tips, don’t leave your Libre tapes out in the open air! I made our tapes to be breathable and thin for your skin, but that means air can go right through the surface and dry out the adhesive (the sticky part). The packages that our tapes are delivered in are resealable. Remembering to close them back up in the plastic, will make them last much, much longer.
When you spent the time prepping your skin, you ruin all of your hard work when you put on the wrong material. With this I would say 3 things:
Fraying causes the tape to lift up sooner than it would and the thick material will absorb water after a shower making it heavier and more likely to fall off.
The goal is to allow air get to your skin and to keep sweat away from your skin. Materials that doesn’t breathe do just the opposite, they will cause sweat to build up and lift up the tape early.
One of the most frequently asked questions is if our Libre adhesive tapes are hypoallergenic. To be clear, yes, they are, but so are all medical tapes, even ones that cause skin reactions. The reality is that the word hypoallergenic is not a clinical term. In fact, it's a marketing term that isn't required to be supported by science.
We made the conscious decision to put our tapes through clinical trials and tested for cytotoxicity, skin irritation after 21 days, and more, and all results were negligible. This means 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.
This one is the toughest to put into practice since something may not be irritating when it touches your skin once, but can become super itchy and uncomfortable when it is trapped under your skin for several days. These types of irritants can include things like scented soaps and lotions, pollen and dander from pets and the outdoors, and perfumes.
The best way avoid itchy skin under a tape is to wash your skin with a scent-free soap. Something to be careful with is prepping with an alcohol wipe. It's used by many people because it removes oils and is a good disinfectant but 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.
Personally, I only recommend using rubbing alcohol to those with extra oily skin, otherwise sticking to soap and water is your best bet. 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.
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 email@example.com! We're happy to troubleshoot individual situations.
Photo credit: @NaturaBike, @SydneyT1D, @relatableT1D
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