Pump Bumps’ and Other Strange Events

A few pump users have noted some odd occurrences in the day-to-day management of their insulin pump. Skin problems are a real concern and, sometimes, a puzzle to solve.

Skin Problems

Marge notes several red, raised dots at previous insertion sites. Are they the result of an infection or allergy, or just a sign of irritation or a rash?

Inserting a set through skin still wet from alcohol or skin barrier solution can lead to red spots at the site. Be sure to wait until the alcohol is dry or the skin prep solution is “tacky.”

Could you be sensitive to the skin prep solution? Try a different product.

Mechanical irritation or movement of the cannula or needle at the site can also cause a local skin reaction. Secure the set to prevent movement of the cannula. Use a transparent dressing on the skin, insert the infusion set through the dressing and secure the infusion set to the first layer. This “sandwich method” helps prevent “pump bumps” for some people.

Metal sensitivity or sensitivity to the flexible cannula is another possible cause of irritation. If you experience local irritation, try an alternative set or an alternative brand.

Early Sign of Infection

Infection is always a possibility. Re-evaluate your skin prepping techniques and follow the recommended guidelines. If you know your prep technique is not the problem, maybe you need to change your sets more frequently. Ask your physician if applying an antibiotic ointment after site removal could prevent the red spots or help heal them.

Observe the site for the next few days. If the red area becomes larger, more painful and hard to the touch, you might have a developing abscess. Seek medical attention.

Adhesive Allergies

Reactions to site base adhesive usually produce inflammation and itching under the adhesive itself. Using a hypoallergenic tape barrier such as Hypafix or MVP tape (Smith and Nephew) or Tegaderm HP (3M) transparent dressing may be a solution. Products are available at pharmacies, medical supply houses or from the pump manufacturer’s supply order department.

Device Problems

Pump alarm vs. cell phone: Bob checks a beeping alarm on his pump only to discover the beep came from his cell phone, which he wears on his belt next to the pump. Solution? Wear the pump on the opposite side from the cell phone or at least six inches away from the phone.

Garage-door opener: Jane pulls into the driveway, grabs her pump, aims it at the garage door and presses a button. The garage door is not rising. Looking at the gadget in her hand, Jane discovers her error. She usually removes her pump from the waistband when driving and places it in her lap. Solution? Keep your remote openers, cell phones and other gadgets in more secure locations.

Editor’s note: This will be Barbara Bradley’s last Up and Pumping column. The staff of Diabetes Health would like to thank Barbara for years of sharing her expertise on this topic. We are a better magazine because of her. Thank you, Barbara.

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