Steroid cream before inserting dexcom sensor?

I think this pic is from several hours after taking aleve and using steroid cream so the bumps are much smaller now. It also doesn’t show how bad they were then for some reason.

Last night I had a pretty severe allergic reaction under the opsite flex fix near my sensor site. I have opsite under the sensor pad and then some over with a hole cut out to stop it from coming off. I always get some itching and it gets worse towards the end of the sensor. This time was worse and I started putting some steroid ointment at the edge of the sensor area that I’ve been using for a rash and itching on my neck, arms and elsewhere.

When the sensor stopped and I took it off last night to find there was a big inflammation with 2 long horizontal raised red band bumps which were terribly itchy. The actual sensor site was also inflamed which is normal for me. I put some of the steroid ointment on the whole area and some antibiotic ointment and took some Aleve. I went to have it checked out and th doc said it’s an allergic reaction. No infection. She said to keep up the steroid cream.

I’m wondering if I can put some cream on under the whole area before inserting a sensor? Will that affect the sensor at all? I have started using the Smithson liquid barrier and I’m wondering if that’s what I had a reaction to. I didn’t use that on my new sensor. In the past I have only used some alcohol then the Opsite then the sensor and then more op to hold everything down. I have always had a certain amount of inflammation pain and itching with the sensors though. I started using opsite flex fix because I had a bad reaction when I first used dex- to the adhesive.

I just wonder what is going on here and what I am reacting to because I have been having some pretty severe itching for a few weeks now with a rash which is focused on my neck but also was going onto my arms and my whole body. It is driving me crazy. I have consulted 2 dermatologists and they both said I’m having some type of histamine reaction but they don’t know what’s causing it. The last one said to go back to an allergist.

The steroid cream is the only thing that has given me any relief and fortunately it’s not affecting my blood sugar very much- maybe causing some lows. I can’t take antihistamines for any length of time because they make me feel crazy and give me palpitations.

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Well that certainly doesn’t look like fun. Makes me thankful that so far I don’t react to the adhesives from either the infusion set or the Dexcom sensor… definitely looks like an allergic reaction though.

As far as using the steroid cream before inserting the sensor, I’d double check to be sure, but many of those creams explicitly state that they’re for external use only and not for use on open wounds - which would make me hesitant to use it on an area I’m knowingly going to be introducing a needle/cannula/filament.

I’d also be concerned with the cream itself affecting the ability for anything to properly adhere to the skin. Many of them are a bit oily, and I know that if I were to try and put it on before an adhesive - even a bandaid - it wouldn’t adhere at all.


That really stinks. Very sorry to hear this.

There is quite an extensive article on FUD regarding Dexcom allergy and different ways to deal with this. Perhaps you would find an approach here that would provide relief for you?

FUD: How to deal with a Dexcom allergy


I have similar reactions to infusion sets, both the metal and cannula, but much worse with the cannulas. I saw a dermatologist for eczema and she gave me a cream that wasn’t a steroid but was an immunosuppressant that she said I could use around (not on) the pump sites. This cream helped a lot, but it also caused the tape not to stick well, so I haven’t used it much. I’ve also found Cavilon barrier cream to be somewhat useful.

Steroid cream if used long-term can cause skin thinning and also occluding steroid cream (like putting tape over top of it) greatly increases its potency, so I wouldn’t do that without talking to a dermatologist first. I asked my dermatologist about the “open wounds” thing because my eczema gets so severe the skin splits and bleeds. She said that the cream shouldn’t be used on things like cuts, but “wounds” caused by the eczema or reaction itself were fine.

I think if you haven’t had this reaction this badly in the past and have used something new, I’d stop using it and see if it goes away. I found I couldn’t use Skin Tac because it made the itching and reactions so much worse. Tegaderm is another product I can’t use because I react to it. But I use Opsite Flexifix just fine. So it’s worth looking at other products that may make the reaction worse.

Have you tried the newer types of antihistamines to see if they help and don’t cause side effects? My allergist was showing me some that had just come on the market and asked if I wanted to try, but it had an ingredient in it that could be potato, so I declined. I find taking 20 mg (which is prescription strength) of Reactine/Zyrtec makes a major difference in my allergies overall but also in my infusion set reactions. If I forget to take a pill, one of the first things I notice is my sites start itching and feeling irritated. They also make Benadryl cream, which may help your sites and rash if they are caused by a histamine reaction? For me I have atopic dermatitis, so the Benadryl cream doesn’t do much for my skin other than calm down the itching.

I hope you find something that helps. Good luck. Allergies suck, and when they get complex enough they become a whole chronic illness in and of themselves. I’ve been waking up really sick every morning and had to call in to work sick several times because I was coughing so much I almost threw up, nose completely blocked with mucus and swelling, ears hurting and headache, throat sore and swollen every morning, having to use my inhaler in the middle of the night and throughout the day, eyes watering profusely to a degree the tears and irritation would wake me up in the middle of the night. I thought it was some crazy bad cold, but then I discovered a couple nights ago that I’d forgotten to put one of the dust mite allergy covers back on my pillow after washing it, and I’m super, super allergic to dust mites. So the last few nights have been so much better (though allergies bother me to some low level every single day of the year).

Hopefully you can find what you’re reacting to so you can avoid it, or find a good way of helping to prevent a reaction.


Thanks. This is awful. I had an even worse reaction in terms of swelling when I first used dexcom but this is worse I terms of itching etc. I wonder if I can put it around the sensor maybe. I’ll have to ask dexcom and endo. Maybe ther is an alcohol based steroid lotion. The doc yesterday rx a cream which is not greasy compared to the ointment I’m using now.

Thanks Tim. I’ll check out the article. I hope I can figure something out.

Thanks Jen,

So sorry you’re suffering so much with your allergies etc. I think you’re worse than me although mine are getting worse as I get older. Funny thing I never had any of the typical allergies until my 20’s as far as I know. I had very sensitive skin and an allergy to my own bacteria but t now I know I had a grain a gluten reaction even then too.

Do you know the name of that cream which suppresses the autoimmune reaction? At one point my derm rx protopic fo my neck chest rash when it flared up but it made the itching worse. I’ll have to go back and see what they can do. I’ve not had good results with allergists but I think I’ll try a new one and get the blood work done this time. The scratch tests are useless.

I’m going to stop using the Smithson wipes too. Oddly at first they seemed to help my reaction at dex and inset sites. I also had terrible problems with plastic cannulas, the ss are much better but I still react to them too. I think part of it is the trauma of inserting. I was hoping dexcom was going to make a smaller insertion needle but it seems they’ve done the opposite. There is little regard for people like us who are suffering with this.

I also found putting mattress and pillow covers on helped me a lot and I have t change sheets every 2 weeks or the general itching gets worse.

I worry about long term steroid use but I can’t function well this way and it has given me some relief. Hopefully once it calms down a bit I can use it for flares only. I still have itching with it though. It’s like a chain reaction. First an eyelash itches and I scratch, then It’s my leg, then my inset and so on. The last dermatologist thought I may have dermagraphia since I get irritated from pressure on my skin etc.

I think I need to change my site area too for Dex. I’ve been alternating outer thighs because my stomach couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe I can try another leg area because it’s causing trauma in those spots.

Do you know the name of the new antihistamine? Benedryl is the only one I can take and even that just for 2-3 days. I almost had a car accident from the effects 3 weeks ago. The ones which are non drowsy are even worse. I feel very jittery and crazy on them.

I’ve had allergies to varying degrees my whole life, but overall they have definitely gotten worse as I get older. I’ve been doing allergy shots for the past 3 1/2 years and they seem to have helped prevent new allergies from developing, but they haven’t helped much in decreasing the allergies I already had.

This is the same one I was prescribed. My dermatologist wanred me that burning was a side effect, and I experienced this, so I prefer the steroid cream even though this one is safer in terms of not causing skin side effects like thinning.

I find that for me it can take several exposures before I start reacting. So I might be able to use something for two weeks or a month and be find with it, and then start reacting and not be able to use it. Also, when one site reacts often old previous sites also react at the same time, and sometimes I just need to avoid an area totally. I’ve been fortunate that I don’t get much irritation from the Dexcom sites, though.

I’m the same. I worry about allergy medications and steroids but, well, better than not being able to function. I’ve had eczema on my hands that goes away only with daily application of one of the strongest steroid creams available. As soon as I try to back off to only a few times a wee, it comes back. I’ve asked my dermatologist for patch testing, but she doesn’t feel my eczema is caused by exposure to allergens. I sometimes take a Benadryl before bed if my eczema is itching like crazy and preventing me from sleeping. Otherwise it can wake me up in the middle of the night, especially if I’m trying to back off on the steroid cream.

The new antihistamine my allergist offered me is called Blexten, at least in Canada (sometimes they have different brand names in the US). I haven’t tried it so don’t know if it’s much different from those already available. I find Benadryl knocks me out, so I try to avoid taking it unless I’m having a reaction to food or severe environmental allergies (especially since I already take 20 mg of Reactine a day). Fortunately I can tolerate Reactine/Zyrtec well. I’ve tried other antihistamines to see if they make me less tired, but they make very little difference to my allergy symptoms, so I always end up going back to Reactine. There are also some non-antihistmaine medications like Singulair that an allergist can prescribe. I tried Singuliar a couple of years ago and didn’t really notice much difference, but I may give ita another try if it’d help me take less antihistamine (it can also have behavioural and other side effects, though).


I have this same problem but not with every sensor. Some are worse than others, too. Maybe it is related to the location. I always inject it in the abdomen, rotating. Usually, by the time I get back to using the same spot, the rash has cleared up. I had to completely stop using the opsite because it made it much worse. I had a severe reaction to OmniPod a while back due to them changing the adhesive. That was much worse than what I experience w/ Dexcom. It was more like a chemical burn:( Thankfully, they have since resolved that and now OmniPod rarely causes an issue. Sorry, I don’t have a solution for Dexcom. I just try to tolerate it:frowning:


Thanks, @Tim35. I’m going to try Michel’s “Adhesive allergy: simple steps” to see if any of those tips help. I currently always use alcohol swabs since early on I had a severe infection to an OmniPod and still have a scar from it. I will try the antibacterial soap to see if that helps w/ the Dexcom rash.

I have been using the Dexcom sensors for the last 18 months and had a similar reaction to the adhesive. I started using Flonase allergy spray on my skin prior to inserting the sensor and it has stopped the itching and redness. This Flonase is the original spray with the green lid and I use 3-4 sprays around the area, let it dry and then insert the sensor. I hope you find something that works for you. Now that I have used the sensors I wouldn’t want to have to do without them.


EdM, have you ever tired S&N Skin Prep (NOT IV Prep)? Apply and let thoroughly dry, to create a skin barrier for the Dexcom patch? Don’t put it on the spot where the sensor pierces the skin in case of fouling the sensor.

I use Skin Tac to help the dressing adhere better/longer, and I use a template that helps me avoid the small area where the sensor pierces the skin. It’s made of of heavy coated paper stock. Perhaps making a template (you have to figure out where the sensor goes by inspecting the underside of the sensor frame) would work for applying Skin Prep.

I tried that for my pump inset last night. It seems to help but my bg spiked. I’m sure sure if it was the Flonase. I started a different steroid cream so maybe it was that it something else. I’ll try it for my next dexcom sensor. The current one is ok. I stopped the Smith & Nephew skin prep so I think that caused the bad reaction now although I usually have itching and inflammation anyway which is why I used that. I’m sure with the pump insets it’s the adhesive I, reacting to. I only used Flonase on the needle site and the other part it attaches to is itchy etc.

I’m going to try flonase with dexcom and change site areas as well as not use the smith nephew prep.

Wow so sorry about your excema but at least the steroid helps. After six weeks of this being much worse I’m so happy to get some relief. I tried to stop the steroid and was itching right away so I’m just going to stay on it until it hopefully gets better or back to my normal. I usually react to something right away if I’m going to but you never know.

I’ve never heard of of blexton, I’ll ask about it. I was thinking of trying Zyrtec but I’ll prolly just end up throwing a whole bottle away. What type of allergy shots? Singulair is dangerous and has caused deaths in children. Any asthma drug with a long acting ventolin like drug is not safe.

I hope we both get some relief soon. My regular derm said I had excema at one point but now they all don’t seem to know what’s going on. It could be partly from hashis maybe. One thing I’ve noticed is that the steroid cream on my arms has gotten rid of those little bumps. It’s great. I bought some urea moisturizers to try too. I’ve used them on my feet ( Kerolac) and fingers where I get terrible dry skin in the winter. One day of cold weather and my thumbs start cracking. It’s awful.

So far the dex site is responding well to the steroid cream. It’s still a bit itchy. I have to decide on a new area for the sensors. Any ideas?

I don’t use a pump but only the sensors and I have never had a spike in readings. If you use the Flonase on your next sensor please let me know if it helps you. I wish you well.

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Thanks. I’ll let you know what happens. Right now worried about our kitty in the hospital :crying_cat_face: so this is pretty minor by comparison.

Have you tried using a barrier tape? Perhaps IV3000 or Tegaderm patches? I’m quite allergic to the adhesive on my pump insertion sets, so I just insert them through one of those two tapes - problem solved.

I use opsite flex fix as I said. I still get the irritation and itching. I think this worse event may have been caused by smith prep pad I was using before the opsite.

Thanks for this recommendation. I am going to try the flonase with my next sensor and will post my results…