Insulin Pump - Cannula Allergy

Hey everyone!
I’ve had some issues being allergic to the cannula on my Medtronic insulin pump. I’m positive it’s not a tape allergy, as the redness is only in the center around the pinpoint hole. After 2 days, I get a blister with redness and irritation. So have to take Zyrtec and Pepcid (for the antihistamine in it) daily as advised by my doctor. Then no blister or redness. Things go back to normal.

Just wondering if anyone else out there has experienced a cannula allergy? What did you do to resolve it? Wondering on other alternatives. I am fine after taking the meds, but am frustrated. As if I miss a dose of Zyrtec and Pepcid, my redness is awful! Can’t understand it.

This is new. I’ve been on the pump for 7 years, and nothing until this last year.

Any advice would be appreciated!

Hi, i have never experienced something like this.
Have you tried out every cannula from Medtronic? afaik they have 4 different sets ( ), so i would try out every one, to find out if you have an allergy to only one set or to all of them. Otherwise you might wanna explore other pumps with different sets, eg. animas, omnipod, akku check, and so on.
hope you find a better solution than your meds, i understand that this sucks!
Take care

Hey SC!

Yes, that was the first thing I tried. I’ve tried all of them, and according to Medtronic, they’re all made of Teflon, the same thing. The only different one is the metal set, which is a needle left in you over a cannula…but I wasn’t a fan. It hurt and wasn’t comfortable for me.

I talked to Omnipod reps, and was told the catheters are also the same…ugh! The new pod is so cool too. I was hoping a pump change might solve the problem…but not really.

Troubleshooting these allergies is so frustrating.

Yes - I had the exact same problem. I've been pumping for seven years as well. I take an extra-strength antihistamine daily for many seasonal/environmental allergies (I react to various things constantly with even just incidental contact and feel like I have a bad cold 24/7/365, even in winter, without the medication), but even with that I could not leave a cannula set in for more than two days. After one day it would be itching, and by the end of two it would be itching unbearably and there would be a big welt right around the cannula. Often it would also be red and have little hives under the adhesive and a ring of redness/swelling around it, but by far the area around the cannula was the worst. My endo suggested I try barriers and alternate infusion sets, but both of these still resulted in a big welt around the cannula (like what you'd get from a positive allergy skin prick test, if you've ever had those). Looking back, I think I've had a bit of an allergy to infusion sets from the start. I have pictures from my first year of pumping that show irritation, but it's only in the past two years that sites were only lasting 1-2 days and a lot of them were so itchy by the end that I'd rip them out early, or else they would just die and stop working. The first thing I'd do after removing a set is scratch the sute, and I'd usually keep scratching for 1-2 days after removal before the hives and itchiness and irritation faded.

I switched to needle sets about six months ago. It not only mostly solved my problem, but my control improved IMMENSELY. I used to struggle to get an A1c below 7.5% even working as hard as I could, would have blood sugars that had no pattern and made no sense, my sites would randomly quit working ... Since switching, my last A1c was 7.2% and I don't feel like I've been killing myself working. I actually feel like I could be putting in more effort than I am (mostly too busy with full-time work and school and volunteering). My blood sugars actually have something of a pattern. When I'm high or low, I can usually figure out what might have caused it. It's like a completely different diabetes!

I agree with you that I like the cannula sets better. A lot of the metal sets hurt and/or bleed for me. I'm using the 6 mm ones which seem better than the 8 mm ones. I also find the sets sometimes do still get a tad itchy by the end of two days, and there is sometimes a tiny raised bump at the point the needle entered my skin. I have similar problems with earrings and necklaces causing little itchy bumps, and it's been suggested that I'm a bit allergic to the metal, which I think is probably true. But compared to the irritation I was getting before, the minute amount of irritation I sometimes get from the needle sets is nothing, and the vastly improved control makes it worth it. I just hope I never develop a full-fledged allergy to the needles! I've also had some problems with the needle sets falling out too easily, and have found stuff like Skin Tac causes almost as much irritation for me as the cannula sets did, so that's something I'm still trying to find a good solution to, especially since a lot of sets are painful when I put them in and I end up moving them, which requires something to make them stick down well.

If the set allergy is beginning to become a big issue for you, I would definitely give needle sets a try. I was blown away by how much my allergies were affecting my diabetes control! Make sure to try different lengths of needle sets. When I first tried them two years ago I gave up because they bled and hurt so much, and spent two more years dealing with horrible irritation and random blood sugars, before giving the 6 mm sets a try. They aren't perfect, there is still some bleeding and pain, but they are much better than the 8 mm ones were, and I wish I'd checked them out sooner.

Ok, sorry to hear that.
I am a fan of the metal sets, i dont know why they hurt you, i have been using them for over 8 years now, 6mm, and they never hurt and never kinked.
I am sorry i dont have any other proposals for you, except to try the metal sets again…
i totally understand that this allergy must be frustrating…

Thanks again SC! I might just have to try again. We’ll see. My symptoms are controlled right now, but I only wonder what long term effects Zyrtec and Pepcid can cause…if any. Thanks for letting me vent. Feel better already. (Hugs)

Omg Jen! Thanks for the detailed response! So awesome of you! Glad you get it…almost completely the same. I’m mostly frustrated because when I started pumping, I had no issues. This started after I got the new pump. I asked Medtronic if they’ve changed anything and they said no. It got so bad last year that I had to take a pump break, then got back on 6 months ago. It’s better, with no redness or itching. Just a blister if I don’t take the allergy meds. So gross! I take the meds and the blister gets absorbed. It heals after a few days with Neosporin. I’ve tested it, and by day 3 I even get slightly short of breath. My symptoms all disappear if I get off the pump. But my control is excellent on the pump, and I figured they’re manageable with meds. I have absolutely nothing on meds. Weird. Thanks for listening to my rant. That in itself makes it better! (Hugs)

Your description of blisters is interesting ... The other day I had a "no delivery" alarm on my pump using the metal sets, which isn't supposed to happen. When I touched the site there was a lump underneath. I took the set out and the lump stayed for about a day and a half. But in addition to the lump, a blister formed right next to it. It wasn't itchy when it first appeared, but it got itchy a few hours after I'd removed the set, then went away (and is now gone completely) when I took an antihistamine. The itchiness and the fact that it went away after I took an antihistamine made me wonder about an allergic reaction, but the blister seemed weird to me. I had tried to stop taking my allergy medications for three days because I hate that I have to take them in winter and periodically try to see if I can stop ... After three days, I was completely stuffed up and blowing my nose constantly and using my inhaler multiple times a day because I constantly felt like I couldn't breathe and developed random hives from my clothing, so I started them up again. But it makes me wonder if that weird lump and blister and no delivery could have been an allergic reaction to the metal set. Hopefully it won't happen again as long as I keep up the medication ... Gah, I hate allergies!

I hope you sort it out soon. It is definitely frustrating! I haven't seen my endo since switching to metal sets, and I think he'll be blown away by the improvement in my control.

That’s awesome Jen, congrats on the improved control!

At the same time, dumb allergies. ;). I’m 100% convinced yours was an allergy. For me, I’m super picky about my skin, so the blister thing was a surprise and really grossed me out. I wish I still had the pics, if it happens again I will take one for you. Sounds weird, but the blister appears like a little donut on the skin, with insertion point in the middle. Again, wasn’t the tape…didn’t follow it whatsoever. Wasn’t itchy either, just a little sore or irritated feeling. Take a dose of allergy meds…gone almost immediately. My doc doesn’t even understand it. The allergists, confirmed it’s an allergy and recommended what I’m taking. It’s either a Teflon allergy or stainless steel. Which I doubt the steel one because I was on injections my whole life. Sooo…never a reaction to insulin syringe needles. I’m leaning more toward the Teflon possibility, or just hypersensitivity to something foreign in the body.

You removed the site…perfect. The lump underneath the skin is def a mystery. Maybe swelling at the site underneath? The blister was a reaction for sure…sounds just like it.

Same as you, when I tried the metal sets, they made me feel sore. After 2 days I started itching. No blister or hives, but very sensitive. I found the regular infusion sets more comfortable. Just can’t win! Lol.

Hey there. I started my search today, June 26, 2017. I’ve been having some pretty bad reactions to the cannula. It started last fall. I’ve been on the pump for over 10 years with no problems. Now I’m have redness, serious soreness and winding up on antibiotics for deep tissue infections. I don’t have what looks like a blister. but the redness and swelling radiate out up to two inches. Also, I get puss coming out of the port hole. Topical triple antibiotic ointment and bandages don’t do enough. I get a hard lump just under the skin and that takes months to reduce. I still don’t know if they’ll go away completely. I’m very careful and very diligent with using ointment and covering the port every time. I truly suspect that something has changed with the product. This a new thing.

Has anything changed in your treatment, have you switched insulin recently. Insulin allergies are rare but they do happen if you have changed insulin I might suspect it. Also have you tried a metal cannula like the Sure-T, some people that have allergic reactions to Teflon cannulas find relief with metal cannulas.

Sure-T is Medtronic infusion set, I believe other pumps have the same infusion set.

Hi. I’m new to the site but your post came up when I searched for insulin pump canula allergies. I use the omnipod pump and have the exact same reaction you do. The first day I change the pod I am well controlled but by day 2 or 3 my blood sugars will immediately jump up to 300 - 450. I’ve tried skin preps and iv3000 and I am allergic to those also (leaving red itchy areas in the shape of the tape). I was using the pump for about 5 years when the canula was white. Then they changed the canula color to blue. That’s when this problem started. I started injections for about 2 years and bs control was not great so I started back with the omnipod pump about a month ago. Did okay for about 2 weeks and the sites are now getting itchy, red, and hot. I get an oozing blister after removing and it turns into a hard bump with what looks like a bruise and slowly clears up in about 2 weeks. I take Benadryl to help the reaction but it doesn’t help much. I need to change my pump but I am afraid the same thing will happen with different canulas. I also have SLE and am wondering if that is a factor in this problem. Any help is appreciated… Can a different color canula cause this much trouble? Unfortunately the clear canula pods are not available. Thanks and good luck to you