Getting sensors to stick....what's the secret?

I recently upgraded to the seven plus and i love it. Only problem is getting them to stick the whole seven days. The most I have been successful with before upgrading was 9-10 days and I am jealous of all the people I see with it lasting 14-21 days.

My sensors seem to fall off after a shower or two. I take a shower every two days because that’s when I change my Omnipod. I’ve had my current sensor on since Monday night, and it’s Thursday afternoon. When I first put it on I used alcohol and 3M sticky wipes. Last night I took a shower and it almost fell off so I sprayed some mastisol. Now around the sensor it is so dry and very red. It hurts and it’s itchy again. The adhesive feels very hard (on the outside surrounding the transmitter) and I can feel it inside of me.

I have tried skin-tac, skin prep, iv prep, mastisol, 3M wipes, Hollister wipes, barrier wipes, tegaderm, iv3000.

Can anyone help?

You and me are in the same boat. I too would get jealous to hear others say they’ve got 10+ plus days on theirs when I’d need to put an army of medical tape on my sensor after day 3.

This happened all the time when I put it on my abdomen. I usually take 3 showers a day (once in the morning, before/after workouts) so add the shower plus the sweat from the w/o and it’d peel up very quickly. Plus the fact that my gut isn’t as flat as I’d want it, so it be bouncing throughout the day and night.

Have you tried using another site, perhaps the back of your arm or your outer thigh? Since putting it on my outer thigh, a couple inches below my hips, I’ve gotten an average of about 9 days each time, and that’s with no extra adhesive besides IV prep. The extra protection your clothing gives, especially where it is a bit tighter would help too.

Somewhere I read these instructions -

Clean the spot thoroughly, wipe with alcohol swab.

Dry for 60 seconds with hair dryer on cool

Apply Skin-Tac

Dry for 60 seconds with hair dryer on cool

Stick the sensor on, do the plunger, etc.

Run the Skin-Tac swab around the edges of the adhesive patch (i usually leave the spot where the needle is going to go in untouched)

Dry for 60 seconds with hair dryer on cool

Insert transmitter and go!

I’ve had pretty good luck doing that - although sometimes it randomly comes loose anyways… I sometimes use liquid bandage to stick parts that are coming loose back on.

Hope this helps!

  • Tony

For my Dexcom sensor sites I use strips of hyperallerginic tape that I buy at my drug store. There are pics in the Dex manual of how to tape it down. If you do this be careful not to put tape on the transmitter. Just tape around the edges ovet the top of the sensor tape. I use only two strips and it works great.

I put latex adhesive on the sensor tape and surrounding skin. Let dry ~5 min then blot some talc on it to prevent from sticking to clothes. Works great (unless you have latex allergies).

I use flexfix tape OVER the sensor tape (I cut a hole for the transmitter)… it’s way stickier/stronger than either IV3000 or Tegaderm.

Usually that gets me through 10-12 days just fine. If it starts to come up, I use skin-tac to get it re-stuck and then tape over it again (it can look fairly messy/gunky by the end of two weeks).

I only wear my sensors on my arms… if I tried my belly they’d probably fall off after just 24 hours. I have a heck of a time getting infusion sets to stick there, I can’t imagine anything that would need to stay longer.

Sarah, the hyperallergenic tape I am using is one inch wide and is water proof. I sticks forever and does not irritate my skin. There are several brands that adhere to the skin very nicely. I think mine is a 3M product.

What brand/kind of tape is it specifically? I haven’t found a single drugstore tape that will stay stuck to me… I think it comes down to different people having different skin.

I have some 2" wide micropore tape I use to tape safety loops on leg sites… but that tape doesn’t stay stuck more than 24 hours, and part of the reason I use it for safety loops is it’s so easy to get off. It’s the only 3M tape I know of that will stay on me more than a couple of hours.

Flexifix is great stuff… it works nicely for overtaping infusion sites too :slight_smile:

I tossed the packaging sarah, sorry. The inside of the roll says 3M Transpore, no other words. It stays stuck very well for 3.5 days for my pump sites and 7 days for my Dex sites. I’ll have to admit my first Dex site lasted 7 days, the 2’nd lasted 5 days and the third one 2 days. Ihave not started a fourth on yet. But the tape is the best thing going in my CGM experience, so far. LOL!!!

I have a solution that works for me each and every time. I have never used an adhesive. I did purchase 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) - usually under $1 per bottle. After a shower, I pour some on a white wash cloth and scrub the area that I will apply the sensor to - let it dry and use another area of the wash cloth and pour more alcohol and scrub again. I do this 3 or 4 times in total until I’m certain that there are no further body oils on that area. 70% rubbing alcohol does not work as well. 91% Alcohol is considered first aid antiseptic. I make sure that the area is dry and apply the sensor. This $1 bottle lasts for 4-6 weeks too.

I had the same problem with my stomach and switched to my arm. The arms are great and last far longer.
My method is to mark the insertion site w/a small circle, then I use iv prep, mastisol, iv3000 (w/a small hole cut for the sensor), mastisol, then insert the sensor, mastisol under and around the transmitter, and top it off with a second iv3000.

I’ve got no comments about using the Skin-Tac product (instead of others). But I do have two major arguments with this approach, and declare it to be manifestly “sub-optimal” for two reasons:

#1 Alcohol’s drying action is very bad for skin, and it’s been found in CLINICAL STUDIES to be no “better” at killing pathogens then a good, 20-second long, soap wash with gentle scrubbing. Use a fresh washcloth, rinse well, and dry with an absolutely fresh hand towel. (NOT the shower towel which has been sitting on the shower door, wet and dirty, for the last 3 days…) All of the “helper” compounds work best on clean skin which has had all of the “sloughing off soon” flakes cleaned away. Alcohol doesn’t do this: as it dries away, any “stuff” which it loosened just gets set back down.

If you feel a need to be cleaner than soap+water on a biologicial basis, you really need to go all the way to PVI pads (i.e., “the orange stuff”).

#2 Do not use the “air” or “cool” setting on the hairdryer-- you need at least 800 watts to do this right. (On nearly all hairdryers, that means “full” power). With the heat on high, you’ll need to keep it a few inches away-- but that helps too, because having the wind spread across and area SIGNIFICANTLY LARGER than your Sensor pad target keeps the liquid from being blown away, sideways, from the area in which you want it to stay.

So I use “full” power with 5-7" of distance. By using heat, the compound sets up much faster, and that’s good-- the longer you leave it as liquid, the less consistent your application layer becomes. This is due to both the hair dryer “outward-wind” effect which I just described, and usually even more important, gravity:

It’s also very important, with these ultra-runny compounds, to keep them from flowing downwards from gravity, leaving almost none of the compound at the upper edge of your site. The hair dryer solves this too: You need to keep it pointed UPWARDS (from below), while drying, so that the hair-dryer wind counter-acts gravity’s pull, keeping the liquid in place as it quickly dries.

To avoid the gravity-induced problem, you must begin the hair dryer INSTANTLY after you’ve smeared the applicator pad over the site. You don’t have time to turn it on or grab it from the counter, it has to be running and held in your other hand for immediate use. (There’s already damaging down-flow during the first 1/4 second, but the hairdryer helps by pushing it back UP at the beginning of the process.)

Tony, it might work well enough for you, and I’m not “slamming you” for bringing it up. I’m disrespecting the process which you read, which definitely has the defects which I’ve described here. You did GREAT in taking the time to type it in for Erika, thanks!

This post is about using Mastisol to “repair” failing edges… and nothing else. I would like you to
I’d like you to re-try skin-prep using the procedure which I described in reply to Tony (in another post on this Thread, the one about using a hair dryer on “High” and pointed upwards). Also note the next separate post I’ll make, about properly sticking down the pad the pad the first time. I shower more than 4x your frequency, because I’m doing some very heavy-duty house remodeling after I’m done with my real job.

I’ll SWAG that you’re probably not doing a great job of preparing your site, AND then you press the pad down incorrectly the first time. AND then (after it’s failed far too soon) you’re trying to repair the failing pad incorrectly. I might be wrong about One, or even Two, of these guesses. But each area in which you can improve technique and tactics will bring benefits, so I’m going to try and address them all.

This is post is the LAST part, how to use Mastisol for repair of failing adhesive pads.

And I’ll describe this backwards too – with the "how to “press it back down” step first, and then application details after. (Why? Because there’s some general stuff which I’ll get out of the way while discussing the more simple “press-down” step.)

Never, never use Mastisol in the spray bottle, it goes all over the place. Mastisol should only be used to patch failing edges, and it need to be wiped on to the two surfaces (skin and failed Sensor pad) by Q-tip, from the flip-top bottle. The two surfaces MUST !!! be kept apart until they’re ALMOST completely dry. (It’s like woodworker’s Contact Cement-- if you press it together while it’s wet, you’ve completely ruined the job.) Then you press the pad back into the skin, pretty firmly, from the Transmitter assembly outwards towards the edge.

This “pressing step” needs spotlessly clean Q-tips. And you need to use a “rolling” action, not a “scrubbing” action. If you press the Q-tip down and just drag it to the edge (that’s what I mean by “scrubbing”), you weaken and microscopically “tear up” all of the Pad Fabric which you were just working to re-strengthen and re-adhere. While rolling towards the edge, you press firmly, definitely bending the shank of the q-tip quite a bit-- but not so hard as to distort pad fabric or squeeze all of the adhesive out of the pad. This “rolling” action slightly liquifies the Mastisol, filling in any gaps which are present, and nearly always roll a bit of extra Mastisol past the edge of the pad. GXo just slightly past the edge, and let the “extra” be taken up by the formerly clean q-tip. Just take another toothpick, or the other end, for the next bit of rolling-- they’re cost practically nothing.

When I do this, (for about half of my Sensors, usually right around day 11 or day 12) I end up using 6 or 7 q-tips. 2 for the application job, and 4 for the roll-down job-- but, since I wear gloves all the time, I can use both ends of each “application” q-tip. If you use only one end of each “application” toothpick, to keep your fingers clean, you’ll probably use more of them. I usually need 4-6 ends to get the application step done.

So, let’s move back to the application step. You need to take care of this when edge has loosened about 1/16". Less than that, you won’t have enough “loose” pad area to work with. Past about 1/8th", you’re too late-- this method is going to loosen up MORE “failing pad” than you actually see right now, and the loosened pad ends up getting too close into the Sensor. That allows movement of the wire in your body (inaccuracy) and causes WAY too much skin rash. Just give up, put on a new Sensor instead. (If you put it on right, this shouldn’t be happening for well over a week anyway – even with 2x per day showers.)

Application is via q-tip. You might want to put on ultra-cheap “use-once” gloves, latex or nitrile, to do this without getting Mastisol all over your fingers. (I always do, and I’ve had almost 4 years of practice with this stuff-- it just WANTS to do an “unexpected” drip and mess up fingers, even for me. So I don’t give it a chance to get 'em. Do your “loading up” above a nice wad of a few paper towels, which you can just leave to dry if drips happen. You’ll throw away the Mastisol-dripped paper towel(s) after about 10 minutes if a drip DID occur.

Do NOT attack your failing edges with a dry q-tip, or with any other tool. Instead, load up a q-tip with a couple drops of mastisol, and then use a “Roll the failed Dexcom pad up-and-away from the skin” motion on the failed edge. The q-tip will get DIRTY, picking up bits of failed adhesive form both your skin and the pad. You want this, it’s the key to success! All of the dirty bits have to be pulled away, leaving just a clean layer of mastisol on both surfaces.

To avoid excess drips and improve control, you don’t want to load up your applicator q-tips so much that they splash around. More frequent reloads of less Mastisol goes a lot better than trying to get it all done by one or two dripping, messy overloaded steps. Think like a painter. And when the Q-tip has collected too much dirt, and starts leaving dirt behind, junk that one and start with a fresh one. Do the Mastisol wash on the pad first, rolling upwards and AWAY from the skin. Keep doing the “up-and-away” cleaning and Mastisol Application, going inwards towards the Sensor, until you get to Pad which hasn’t failed and doesn’t want to come up freely. This is a judgment thing, I can’t describe exactly when the inner pad is “good enough” to leave alone… You’ll just have to practice and learn.

When the Pad is all freed and clean, with a nice layer of Mastisol on it, go back and wipe the skin side, (Again, a smooth layer, not real thick, but with all of the dirty, old adhesive bits removed and taken away by Applicator Q-tips.) On skin, I rub the “long way” – in the same direction as the pad edge. That’s sideways, relative to the rolling up and away which you did on the pad surface. Why this way? When stuck back together, these motions will have been at 90 degrees to each other, so any unwanted ridges will be broken up by a “checker board” pattern. Do not get your q-tip tangled on the pad while you’re working the skin.

Air dry or “warm” hair dryer, at an angle which keeps the pad lifted AWAY from the skin. After it seems almost totally dry, proceed to the “roll back down” step.

Mastisol hardens the pad, and nearly always causes skin irritation. When you remove the Sensor, be sure to use a remover, (I use “Remove”), and then something like “udder cream” until signs of irritation are gone. That can easily take a week or two. Don’t just apply udder cream, massage it in firmly.

They shouldn’t fall off after just one or two showers. The wording of your post seems to say that you’re NOT yet trying to use an entirely different adhesive pad underneath the Sensor. (Lots of people use IV3000, Tegaderm, and FlexiFix pads or tapes in this way, and have great success by doing so.)

If I’m right about that, then your ultra-short adhesive pad lifespan has two possible sources. Either your skin prep, which I addressed in my (equally long) reply to Tony; or your method of putting Sensor pad down – which I’ll talk about here.

Clean the target site, and apply your “Helper” liquid as I described in reply to Tony (NO ALCOHOL, and without letting the “Helper” liquid solution flow away from your target site via Gravity, and with HEATED drying). Now, assuming that the Site is well-prepared, using the method I described, there are also three possible areas of tactical error while finishing the Sensor insertion and start-up steps:

#1: Pad not pressed down enough: Weak adhesion, quick failure. Also, water and soap and crud easily get underneath, between pad and skin, accelerating the failure even more.

#2: Pad torn up by pressing wrong. DO NOT drag sideways across the pad.Also, pressing hard over a really large area will push your skin in too far, and stretch already-adhered portions of the fabric too much.

And last;
#3: Twisting the housing (and pad underneath/adjacent to it) while inserting the Transmitter and breaking off the “Transmitter Insertion” Clip.

Here’s how to press the pad down FIRMLY: First, when you remove the adhesive protector papers and get ready to set it down, be sure to roll the sides of the pad (the long sides, not the short sides) up and away from the Sensor housing, to prevent them from landing on your skin too early. You want the Sensor Housing to go down first, with an equally wide “stripe” of pad from one end to the other (the long way). You DO NOT want the edges of the long sides landing at the same time as the Sensor housing-- you press them down later.

Holding the muscles of your target area fairly tight, set this long “middle-stripe” of Sensor housing and adhesive pad fabric down. Working from one end of the “middle stripe” towards he Sensor housing, push (NOT hard) to assure that it’s in place. Using your fingertip: press, pick up and move your fingertip, and press again (don’t “drag” it). Keep going until you reach the plastic housing. Now CLENCH really hard, and press the plastic housing down AS HARD AS YOU CAN. Then relax back to moderate muscle tightness, and continue with moderate fingertip presses until the whole stripe is down.

Next, you need to press in the tape near, but not under, the Sensor. Remember that “Pressure” is force per area, and use this to your advantage. use just a small smooth tool, like the rounded end of a paperclip, to press a little bit of pad at a time with only moderate force from your hand. Don’t press hard, and don’t DRAG from one spot to the next while holding pressure! By pressing down on only a tiny bit of pad area, you avoid pushing a lot of tissue down too far and distorting the pad.

After you’'re done setting down the area right around the plastic housing, you can slighly larger rounded tool to work outwards to the edges of the pad. An everyday pencil is perfect for this: just round off the edges of the eraser end, VERY slightly, and use that end as your tool. As with the paper clip, the small area allows effective pressure with very little force. Go pretty lightly, without stretching the fabric out of shape.

Because of the small tool size, this WILL take at least 2-3 minutes. But it’s way better for your skin to take extra time on the pad now, at the start, usually preventing a need for Mastisol later :wink:

Now remove the safety clip, and shoot in the Sensor-- firmly and smoothly. Most important of all, be sure to properly open the “release clips” to remove the Shooter-- if you need to fight it, the clips aren’t opened far enough. You can use your other hand, the “removal” hand, to widen the clip arms while your fingers are holding the “press-open” points tight. The go back to the shooter and gently remove it. There needs to be almost NO motion in the plastic housing when you remove the shooter.

Last step, inserting the Transmitter. There is a special “trick” here, used twice so pay attention. You put your fingers back on the “press open” points to make it easier for the “Insert Lever” to push the Transmitter under the clips. While holding these, you hold pretty tight to keep the housing from twisting while the “Insert Lever” pushes the transmitter ends through the clips. They will never go through at the exact same time, and while the two sides are un-level, the Insert Lever creates a twisting force. First trick: Hold the clips tight, at the “open the clips” spots, and use your grip to prevent this force from causing much actual rotation by the Sensor housing. Only let them go after you’ve heard the second!!! of the two clicks which occur when Transmitter corners successfully get pushed under the clips.

Be absolutely, totally sure that both corners are under the clips. Otherwise the electrical contacts don’t work well, and your Sensor will act “dead” from inaccurate readings. Also, water and soap will get in there when you wash, and that rapidly kills the Sensors too. (And It’s a major infection risk, dirty washwater held next to a subQ skin puncture…)

OK, the Transmitter is in. Now comes the second use of the trick (holding the Transmitter Clip Arms): But this time, you’re won’t be holding them in the “Release” position. Instead, put your two fingers at the very ends, where pressing them together actually TIGHTENS the grip of the clip arms on the Sensor corners. Hold firm, to prevent Sensor housing movement, and twist the “Insert Lever” to break it off. You’re done! Activate the countdown.

This process gets the pad down firmly and evenly WITHOUT tearing or stretching it’s fabric, and keeps it the housing and pad down, untwisted, while you remove the Sensor “Shooter” mechanism and “Transmitter Insertion Lever”. Within your skin, the Site and Wire don’t get stretched and irritated by housing motion and that’s a big plus as well: it helps Sensor lifespan and reduces SubQ irritation.

The FDA-Approved Dexcom instructions don’t bother with all of these finicky instructions, but my way is better. (Maybe… YMMV!)

There are two possible problems with Sensor

Typos left behind by the tudiabetes 15-minute “editing” time limit, sorry. I think it makes sense. Please ignore the half sentence at the bottom, I was about to remove it.