From the long list of lesser-known indignities one experiences with diabetes comes the "lumps and bumps" problem... Once again we'd like to welcome long-time type 1 PWD and Columbia University journalism grad student Amanda Cedrone to add her two cents:
Special to the 'Mine by Amanda Cedrone
Like most people, I'm not always as hyper-aware of my diabetes as I should be. While I feel like I have pretty decent control, there are times when my diabetes takes the back seat to graduate school, my friends, my workout routine...You get the picture.
As most PWDs are aware, it doesn't matter if things are in control "most" of the time — we still suffer the consequences of the small fraction of time when they aren't.
For me, when my busy life gets in the way, I slack on my pump sites.
I admit it — I sometimes don't change my infusion sites often enough, don't take the time to thoroughly disinfect them before applying or after taking them off, and I tend to use the same areas of my body ALL the time. Cue the looks of disapproval.
Because the two seconds it would take to apply some anti-biotic cream to my pump sites is obviously too much of my precious time, I have a nice collection of little red bumps in the most-used areas of my body.
I am working on being better at this — disinfecting my sites before and after use, applying antibiotic cream, and rotating where I put my infusion sets. But the red reminders that I was lazy (and probably running late) remain.
This is not as serious or as permanent a problem as lipohypertrophy, the long-term fat accumulation under the skin that Amy wrote about recently; my red bumps generally go away within a few weeks to a few months. But they do bother me -- especially on my bottom!
Yes, I use my behind as a pump infusion site.... When I started using a pump at age 13, I was really skinny and muscular. Every place I tried inserting my infusion set immediately turned black-and-blue. My butt was the only part of my body that had fat on it, and was also where I was injecting a majority of my shots, so my parents and I opted to use that as my main site. My tubing runs up and around my thigh and I clip my pump to the waistline of my pants, or if I'm wearing a dress, to my underwear.
It's kind of stuck. I've never had any problems with absorption there, and though I have more fat on my body now and more places to pump, I still use my butt fairly frequently. As a result, this is where I have the most/worst red lumps and bumps. (Imagine the bumps in the photo of my leg times 100!)
I searched to see if others have experienced these bumps as well, and sure enough, they have.
Amy's post got me thinking -- while there may not be much that we can do right now to get rid of the lumps under our skin short of plastic surgery, there's got to be something we can do to get rid of the bumps that are on top of our skin other than waiting around for months in the hopes they'll subside. Especially with bathing suit season approaching — who wants little red bumps anywhere on their body? Been there, done that during my teenage years.
I did some searching and found at least a couple remedies that have worked for PWDs in the past.
Tea Tree Cream:
What it is: Tea tree cream is made from tea tree oil, which comes from a tree in Australia called the Narrow-leaved Paperbark, and there's evidence that it's beneficial for several skin-related ailments.
Where to get it: A quick search shows that you should be able to get it at your local pharmacy or health food store. Or, you can order it online.
Cost: Depending on where you live, or where you purchase it, around $13 for four ounces.
Another suggestion by fellow PWDs is Maderma.
What it is: A line of products designed to decrease the visibility of scars. I bought the scar gel a few months ago but have yet to try it. (Another one of those things that tacks a few extra seconds onto my daily morning routine. It needs to be applied once every day, so that's a big commitment.)
It's worth noting that, like most products, there are several generics to choose from as well.
Where to get it: Again, online or at your local pharmacy.
Apparently some pediatric endocrinologists recommend this. It's mostly used as an anti-itch remedy for hives.
What it is: a powder compound that has to be mixed into a cream by a pharmacist, or you can buy over-the-counter products containing this ingredient and make a homemade lotion. It is applied to the skin before the pump site is placed.
Where to get it: You'll need to ask your doctor for a prescription, and then have the local pharmacy prepare the cream. Or, I found various online recipes to make it yourself using nose spray or eye drops containing cromolyn.
Cost: Depends on your copay, but for mixing it yourself, the eye drops or NasalCrom spray each cost about $9.99.
Unfortunately, these are the only solutions I found that several PWDs actually testified had helped them. Not much to work with, but it's something.
Any other PWDs have suggestions on how to help fade unsightly battle scars?