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By sites I mean, injection and insulin pump sites. The site, where a needle must pierce the skin to allow insulin to be delivered into the body. As a type 1 diabetic, this is something which can’t be avoided. Whether you’re using an insulin pump or injecting, it’s really important that you rotate the sites you use.
“ROTATION IS KEY “
After many years of injecting, and now using an insulin pump. I must admit at times I do get comfortable with using certain sites on my body. It’s very easy to slip into the “bad” habit of using the same sites over and over.
“It gets comfortable! It’s easy to manage. It doesn’t hurt. If I try a new spot will it bleed? Will I have to redo it? Let’s just stick with the thigh today.”
No rotation = lumpy bumpy body
Over use of sites will stimulate the development of lumps. These lumps often seem soft and grape like at the site of injection. The proper term for these lumps are,
Fat hypertrophy also known as hypertrophy or insulin hypertrophy.
These lumps are a build up of extra fat deposits, due to the site being used too often. The Insulin injected isn’t able to flow around the body freely. The way insulin is absorbed is changed, and is unable to circulate as it should do. Therefore making it more difficult to keep blood glucose levels on target.
So what sites can we use?
Here are a few of the sites which can be used when attaching an insulin pump or when injecting with injections. Also refer to the picture below.
- Waist area (love handles)
- Backs of upper arms
When I use to inject 5 times a day, the frequency of lumps and bumps occurring were very common. I changed the size of my needles to the (novoFine 0.3 x 8mm needles) to help to prevent these lumps. Even though I was “rotating my sites”, and I now had “these finer smaller needles” I would still develop small bumps under the skin. I found that exercise helped to get rid of these lumps.
Now that I’m using an insulin pump the occurrence of lumps and bumps are far fewer. I try not to leave my insert on a site for more than 3 days ( *this also happens to be the maximum recommended time by the *CDC). After this point, I find that my skin does become raised and bumpy.
Site Rotation tips
“Monitor those blood glucose levels (BGL’s), because literally your life depends on it.”
As time goes by you will start to realise which sites are better for the best BGL control. Talk with your diabetes team and see if their suggestions are good for you.
- Avoid injecting or placing your pump near your belly button, or near any moles or scars. Tissue in these area are usually a lot harder. Therefore insulin absorption will be a lot slower.
- Try to use your outer upper arm, this part is a lot fattier. Placing an insert or injecting in this site is difficult, so when I put on an insert I press my arm against a wall to attach it.
- Thighs – avoid inner thighs, because it could be more painful!
- Change insert every 2 -3 days and change needles after every use!
- Make sure the area you are going to inject or attach your pump to is clean.
- Don’t get comfortable. Don’t use the same sites. Work that body! Avoid those unsightly lumps and bumps
- Get your sweat on. Try to find an activity that you can maintain and most of all enjoy!
Which are my best sites you ask?
Well, the best sites for me have changed throughout the years. I try my best to avoid my thighs and stomach area (when I was on injections these were my favourite sites). By frequently injecting in those site it has left me with a few small lumps, but being active has helped to reduce and even get rid of the lumps. At the moment, I’ve found that the upper backs of my arms and my derrière region are great for the best blood glucose levels and my overall control. I have no idea why this is. It’s just right for me right now. Everyone’s best sites are different. It’s up to you to figure out which site is best for insulin absorption.
“Remember to rotate your sites, avoid those lumps and bumps on your skin, and find the best sites for you to be able to achieve the best blood glucose levels.”
Changing the “insert” before it needs to be changed
-This pictures to the right is a insert from different angles. The Picture towards the bottom is the piece that is inserted into my skin. The tubing is connected to my insulin pump.
There are times, when I attach my insert and it just won’t stay put, It doesn’t feel comfortable or it is stuck to me like glue. These all result in me having to change the site. These are a few examples of when I may have to change my insert.
- Accidentally rubbing my hand over my insert and detaching it. I need to replace it.
- Creaming my hands and skin and I start to feel my insert peeling.
- As I attach the insert I get a sharp pain, followed by blood coming through the tubing of my pump. I need to replace it.
- In the middle of the night, my pump has a fit, because there is an occlusion in the tubing.
- Time to replace my insert and it just won’t come away from the site. AHHH!
Have you ever had lumps and bumps? Which sites are best for you? Do you get comfortable with certain sites? What do you do to stay active and get rid of those lumps?
*CDC – Centers of Disease Control