By: John Hughes
Do infusion sets refuse to stick to your skin?
Do they come off when you sweat?
Does body hair affect how well they stay on?
Or does your tubing get caught on doorknobs or other objects and get disconnected?
If you are familiar with these problems, the following tips for making infusion sets stick better can help.
These tips are for everyone:
- Start with clean skin. Try to change sets after you shower so the skin is free of oils. Avoid soaps containing skin softeners, because they leave behind oily residues that can make it harder for the infusion set to adhere to the skin.
- Apply a clear, unscented antiperspirant to the area where the set will be placed to prevent any perspiration under the infusion set.
- Swab the skin with a skin preparation product, such as Skin Prep or IV Prep, to remove bacteria and make the skin sticky. Let the skin dry before continuing.
- Try using a dressing such as Tegaderm or IV 3000. Place the dressing directly on the skin and insert the infusion set through the dressing. Or you can apply the dressing on top of the infusion set to help hold it in place. You might also use both methods for extra security. If you place the dressing on top of the set, first cut a hole in it so the set can be disconnected. To cut a hole in the dressing easily, fold the dressing into quarters and then snip off the folded corner.
- Sometimes body hair is a problem, because the infusion set tends to stick better to the hair than to the skin. You can shave the area where the infusion set will be placed. If shaving irritates the skin, simply trim the hair down to stubble.
- Using medical tape is also helpful. You can buy rolls of Hypafix or Transpore from your local pharmacy. Place the tape around the edges of the infusion set to help anchor it in place. You can also apply the tape later should the infusion set tape start to peel back at the corners.
- Michael Robinton, of Insulin-Pumpers.org, recommends using “gorilla snot” to help hold infusion sets in place. Gorilla snot is an old military term for a very sticky liquid. Use tincture of benzoin, Mastisol, or Skin Bond to help hold sets in place. These liquid adhesives are applied to the skin before the tape or infusion set, and work like glue to hold it on the skin. Let the product dry until it is tacky to the touch before placing the tape or infusion set. If it is still a runny liquid, the set will just slide right off the skin. You may need to use an adhesive remover when it’s time to remove the infusion set.
- If your tubing is always getting caught on objects and getting disconnected, consider using a safety loop. This is a small section of tubing that is taped to the skin beside the infusion set in a circle or loop. When you catch the tubing on something, it allows an extra inch or two of tubing to unroll before it yanks out the set.
For more discussions on topics like this one, visit www.insulin-pumpers.org and join the insulin pumper e-mail forum.