Adhesive Allergy?

Hello, I’m a type 1 and I have been a pumper for 12 years. I have never had any issues with allergies to the adhesives until recently. I have tried everything. (Flexip tape, double flexip tape, skin barrier wipes, certain dry deodorant barrier) Nothing is helping and the irritation is unbearable so I’m back to taking shots. My question is…has anybody gone to a allergy clinic where you can get a shot for a certain allergy (adhesives, canula or the insulin it’s self)? Do you think its possible the allergy clinic could help with this ? My doctor says I have to be on a pump and we have to find another alternative. But right now…I do not see any other option.

I’m not sure whether you can do allergy shots for things like adhesives. There are some allergens, such as food allergies, for which shots can’t be used. Other things, such as pollen, dander, venom, or insulin allergies, shots can be used as a means of trying to desensitize the immune system. Allergy shots are not a cure, though; they only lesson the severity of allergies and reliance on medication.

I’ve been getting allergy shots for several environmental and seasonal allergens for two years now. The schedule for allergy shots is very intense: for me I had to go twice a week for the first couple of months, then once a week for the first year, and then once a month, which increases again to once a week for a month when I switch to a new vial of serum. The shots can’t be done at home, even though we know how to do injections, because each one does carry a (small) risk of causing anaphylaxis. The shots continue for three to five years in total, so it is not a fast solution. I’m still quite allergic to all the allergens in the shots, and still need to take just as much allergy medication as I did before. My allergist thinks that I may be in the less than 10% of people for whom shots don’t work, as most people notice a positive improvement in symptoms or can start using less medication after a year or a year and a half. However, I have noticed that my immune system seems somewhat less overreactive to the environment in general.

I don’t think it would hurt to make an appointment with an allergist to ask about these things. I have problems with allergies to the canulas and tape, and am allergic to nickel so do react somewhat to the steel needle at times, too. I haven’t asked my allergist about these issues, mostly because I always forget to ask when I’m in his office. At the least, he may be able to do some tests to figure out what ingredient of the adhesive you’re reacting to so that you can find something without that ingredient to act as a barrier.

Thanks Jen. I appreciate your feedback. Man, that’s one long drawn out process. I can understand how it would be though.I guess the question I need to ask myself is, would it be worth it? I will talk to my doctor some more. I’m going to miss my pump if I cant find relief soon.

One thing I’ve found helps me is, in addition to using steel needle sets rather than canulas (which I react much more to), is to spray a steroid on the site a few minutes before inserting it. I use Flovent, which is a prescription asthma inhaler (that I just happened to have, I didn’t talk to my doctor about doing this, so keep that in mind!), but I’ve read about people using over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays intended for seasonal allergies. I do have some concerns about long-term effects of using this on my skin, but it’s better than having to give up the pump, and I try to minimize its use (I don’t use it on every single insertion, only when I seem to be reacting a lot).

I also find that changing sites as soon as they start getting irritated, which sometimes means daily, helps a lot (though this could be an issue if you pay out of pocket or you insurance has issues covering so many infusion sets).

Also, for me taking a daily antihistamine makes a noticeable difference. I need to take fairly strong antihistamines anyway for my environmental allergies, but if you don’t, it might be something to try.

For tapes and barriers, I think it’s just a matter of trial and eerror, unfortunately. If you can find out exactly what you’re allergic to, that would probably help. Some of the supposedly “hypoallergenic” barriers, like Skin Tac, cause horrible itching and rashes for me. I’ve found I don’t react to Hypafix tape. Also, someone recommended Cavilon cream to me as a barrier, and I don’t seem to react to that, either, though I’ve only tried it twice.

Keep in mind none of this is medical advice, and I’m not a doctor. I’d still talk to your doctor about it. These are just some strategies that have worked for me, as someone else who almost gave up the pump due to allergy issues.

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Why does your doctor say you HAVE to be on a pump? I get its easier to dose insulin, and even more convenient…but I’ve never heard a doctor say anyone HAS to be on a pump. I hope you do find a solution though. I love my pump and would hate to give it up…but that choice should be YOURS…not your doctors.

Thanks Jen, I will definitely give the steroids and antihistamine a try. I gotta get back on my pump.

Kitkat2, I’m not sure why but I assume my doctor says I have to be on the pump because my insulin to carb ration is so sensitive it is almost impossible to keep my levels from being on a roller coaster ride. I am 4’-11 and weight 110 lbs. I try the long acting insulin with the fast acting insulin and I end up crashing way to much. I have had two seizures within the last two weeks from being back on the shot regime rather than using the pump.

I am working with my nurses at Diabetes of America for other solutions. I will defiantly give Jens suggestions a try. I appreciate the feed back. Its much appreciated.

Do you have allergic reactions everywhere on your body or just when you use infusion sets in certain areas? I have occasional allergic problems with pump sites. I always have terrible allergic reactions when I use my Dexcom CGM on my stomach, but never on my arms. I have started using a patch of Opsite Flexifix under all of my infusion sets and have eliminated allergic reactions with those. I mostly avoid my abdomen for my CGM.

What I find interesting is that if I get an allergic reaction from a pump/CGM site, then all of the sites that I have used in recent weeks get inflamed. I am probably dealing with some sort of chronic dermatitis. Usually I take a couple of Benadryl orally and everything calms down.

Some people end up being allergic to the additives in certain insulins and have been helped by switching insulin. That has not been my problem because my skin reactions are always the shape of the adhesive patch.

Good luck getting this figured out.

I actually looked this up, because I noticed it happens to me with infusion sets (specifically plastic cannula ones), too! Also, with allergy shots, when I was getting them once or twice a week, often when I got a shot the site from previous shot would get red and itchy again. (But then, I’m a bit weird in general, because when I get skin tested for allergies, some of the allergens don’t pop up for a couple of days, and/or stay red and itchy for up to two weeks.)

This is off Wikipedia (so it may not be totally accurate), but it explains it more accurately than I can:

Once an individual is sensitized to an allergen, future contacts with the allergen can trigger a reaction, commonly known as a memory response, in the original site of sensitization. So for example if a person has an allergic contact dermatitis on the eyelids, say from use of makeup, touching the contact allergen with the fingers can trigger an allergic reaction on the eyelids.

This is due to local skin memory T-cells, which remain in the original sensitization site. In a similar fashion, cytotoxic T lymphocytes patrol an area of skin and play an important role in controlling both the reactivation of viruses (such as the “cold sore” virus) and in limiting its replication when reactivated. Memory response, or “Retest Reactivity”, usually takes 2 to 3 days after coming in contact with the allergen, and can persist for 2 to 4 weeks.

Jen, are you trying to destroy my faith in humanity?!?!?

I have been living my life and basing all my important decisions on information provided by the almighty Wikipedia… :wink: :smiling_imp:

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Hi Laddie, Thank you for your response. I have had terrible reactions all over, especially on my torso. My thigh didn’t inflame at first and I thought it was gods saving grace but after a couple pods the inflammation started right up. I also use flexip tape, double flexip tape (two layers of flexip with a whole cut out for canula) and I still have severe inflammation. I’m wearing the flexip tape stand alone right now just to test if there is anything in the flexip tape, but so far no reactions. It seems the adhesive on the pods and cgms are pretty strong (strong enough to seep through the flexip tape. My reactions are in the shape of my pods and cgm, but also at the canula site.
I have not put my pod on my arms because I have just recovered from frozen shoulder. My shoulder starts to ach as soon as I start my pod on my arm. A diabetic nightmare that frozen shoulder is.

Anyhow thanks for your comments. Its really appreciated.