Mild insulin pump-related skin problems common
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many children and teens using insulin pumps to control type 1 diabetes experience skin problems at the infusion catheter insertion site, but few report thinking about stopping insulin pump therapy because of these problems.
Insulin pump therapy has several advantages over insulin shots, including better control of glucose (sugar) metabolism, Dr. Louise S. Conwell and colleagues from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and colleagues note in The Journal of Pediatrics this month.
Over the years, studies have suggested that both injections and insulin pumps may cause dermatologic problems, they add. In the early days of insulin pump therapy, many patients developed infection and inflammation at the catheter site, but no study has looked at these complications in patients using modern pumps and rapid-acting insulin-like drugs.
Therefore, Conwell and colleagues surveyed 50 patients with type 1 diabetes who had used insulin pumps for longer than 6 months.
The vast majority (94 percent) reported scars smaller than 3 millimeters in diameter, two-thirds had swelling, just under two-thirds had lesions under the skin, and 42 percent had fat lumps under the skin.
The thinner the patient, the more likely he or she was to have dermatologic complications of insulin pump use, the researchers report, but there was no relationship between long-term blood sugar control and risk of skin problems.
Just 4 percent of parents and 2.4 percent of patients said they considered stopping insulin pump therapy because of related skin problems.
SOURCE: The Journal of Pediatrics, May 2008.