Can Skin Care Aid Use of Diabetes Devices?

Technologies that allow people to monitor blood sugar and automate the administration of insulin have radically transformed the lives of patients — and children in particular — with type 1 diabetes. But the devices often come with a cost: insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors can irritate the skin at the points of contact, causing some people to stop using their pumps or monitors altogether.

Regular use of lipid-rich skin creams can reduce eczema in children who use insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to manage type 1 diabetes, Danish researchers reported last month. The article is currently undergoing peer review at Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, and the authors said they hope their approach will deter more children from abandoning diabetes technology.

Dr Anna Korsgaard Berg

“A simple thing can actually change a lot,” said Anna Korsgaard Berg, MD, a pediatrician who specializes in diabetes care at Copenhagen University Hospital’s Steno Diabetes Center in Herlev, Denmark, and a co-author of the new study. “Not all skin reactions can be solved by the skin care program, but it can help improve the issue.”

More than 1.5 million children and adolescents worldwide live with type 1 diabetes, a condition that requires continuous insulin infusion. Insulin pumps meet this need in many wealthier countries, and are often used in combination with sensors that measure a child’s glucose level. Both the American Diabetes Association and the International Society for Adolescent and Pediatric Diabetes recommend insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors as core treatment tools.

Berg and colleagues, who have previously shown that as many as 90% of children who use these devices experience some kind of skin reaction, want to minimize the rate of such discomfort in hopes that fewer children stop using the devices. According to a 2014 study, 18% of people with type 1 diabetes who stopped using continuous glucose monitors did so because of skin irritation.

Lather on That Lipid-Rich Lotion

Berg and colleagues studied 170 children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes (average age, 11 years) who use insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, or both. From March 2020 to July 2021, 112 children (55 girls) employed a skin care program developed for the study, while the other 58 (34 girls) did not receive any skin care advice.

The skin care group received instructions about how to gently insert and remove their insulin pumps or glucose monitors, to minimize skin damage. They also were told to avoid disinfectants such as alcohol, which can irritate skin. The children in this group used a cream containing 70% lipids to help rehydrate their skin, applying the salve each day a device was not inserted into their skin.

Eczema can be a real problem for kids who use insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to manage type 1 diabetes. Researchers found that regular use of lipid-rich skin creams can reduce its incidence.

Although insulin pumps and glucose monitors are kept in place for longer periods of time than they once were, Berg and colleagues noted, users do periodically remove them when bathing or when undergoing medical tests that involve x-rays. On days when the devices were not in place for a period of time, children in the skin care group were encouraged to follow the protocol.

One third of children in the skin care group developed eczema or experienced a wound, compared to almost half of the children in the control group, according to the researchers. The absolute difference in developing eczema or wounds between the two groups was 12.9 % (95% CI, -28.7% – 2.9%).

Children in the skin care group were much less likely to develop wounds, the researchers found, when they only focused on wounds and not eczema (odds ratio, 0.29, 95% CI, 0.12 – 0.68).

Berg said she would like to explore whether other techniques such as a combination of patches, adhesives, or other lotions yield even better results.

“Anything that can help people use technology more consistently is better for both quality of life and diabetes outcomes,” said Priya Prahalad, MD, a specialist in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, Calif. 

Prahalad, who was not involved in the Danish study, said that although the sample sizes in the trial were relatively small, the data are “headed in the right direction.”

Pediatricians already recommend using moisturizing creams at the sites where pumps or glucose monitors are inserted into the skin, she noted. But the new study simply employed an especially moisturizing cream to mitigate skin damage.

Although one reason for skin irritation may be the repeated insertion and removal of devices, Berg and Prahalad stressed that the medical devices themselves may contain allergy-causing components. Device makers are not required to disclose what’s inside the boxes.

“I do not understand why the full content of a device is not by law mandatory to declare, when declaration by law is mandatory for many other products and drugs but not for medical devices,” Berg said.

Berg reports receiving lipid cream from Teva Pharmaceuticals and research support from Medtronic. Prahalad reports no relevant financial relationships.

Marcus A. Banks, MA, is a journalist based in New York City who covers health news with a focus on new cancer research. His work appears in Medscape, Cancer Today, The Scientist, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, Slate, TCTMD, and Spectrum.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn

Source: Read Full Article