Diabetes affects over 400 million people worldwide. Managing this condition often means relying on regular insulin shots, which can be both inconvenient and painful. This daily routine can become a significant burden, especially for those with type 1 diabetes and advanced type 2 diabetes, who must endure multiple injections daily.

Fortunately, there’s an innovative solution that promises to simplify diabetes management: diabetic patches. These patches offer a less invasive alternative to traditional insulin injections, making daily life easier for diabetics. In this article, we will explore how diabetic patches work, their benefits, potential side effects, and cost implications, and provide guidance on choosing the most appropriate for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Diabetic patches are a less invasive alternative to traditional insulin injections. They come in two types: insulin patches, which deliver insulin directly through the skin, and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) patches, which continuously track glucose levels and provide real-time data.
  • Several FDA-approved insulin patch systems are available, such as OmniPod, V-Go, Tandem, Medtronic, and CeQur Simplicity, designed for different diabetes types and management needs. CGM systems like Dexcom, Freestyle Libre, and Guardian Connect are important in continuously monitoring blood glucose levels.
  • Diabetic patches are convenient because they reduce the frequency of injections and the need for routine finger pricks. They improve diabetes management by providing continuous glucose monitoring, which helps make informed diet, exercise, and insulin dosage decisions.
  • The cost of diabetic patches can be high, but they may be cost-effective long-term by reducing complications related to diabetes. Potential risks include skin irritation, allergic reactions, and accuracy issues in glucose readings, which need careful monitoring and management.

What Are Diabetic Patches?

Diabetic patches are innovative devices designed to aid in the management of diabetes. They serve a dual purpose: some deliver insulin directly through the skin, eliminating the need for injections, while others monitor glucose levels continuously throughout the day. There are two main types of diabetes such as:

1. Insulin Patches

a girl with a diabetic insulin patch on her belly

Insulin patches are small devices that stick to your skin and release insulin into your bloodstream at a controlled rate. They are ideal for people who require insulin but want to avoid multiple daily injections. The patch has a tiny needle or cannula just under the skin that administers insulin efficiently and painlessly. A study shows that approximately 5% of people who use insulin, or around 25,000 people globally, use insulin patches.

Which insulin patch systems are approved by the FDA?

Several insulin patch systems have received approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for diabetes management. These FDA-approved insulin patch systems include:

  • OmniPod Insulin Management System: The OmniPod system delivers insulin directly from a patch without tubing. It can be programmed for individualized basal rates and includes a bolus calculator. The system stores insulin delivery data; each pod expires after three days. While primarily designed for individuals with type 1 diabetes, it can also be used by those with type 2 diabetes.
  • V-Go: V-Go is a disposable device designed for adults with type 2 diabetes who require insulin. The device delivers a continuous, subcutaneous infusion of rapid-acting insulin. Users can use the device to initiate meal-time insulin or doses to correct blood sugar levels. It comes in different prescription levels (V-Go 20, V-Go 30, V-Go 40) based on the amount of insulin delivered over 24 hours.
  • Tandem and Medtronic systems: These systems connect an electronic control and insulin reservoir device to the infusion set with tubing. Both systems offer communication options with a CGM device for enhanced diabetes management.
  • CeQur Simplicity: CeQur Simplicity is a three-day insulin patch that utilizes rapid-acting insulin. It is designed for individuals with type 2 diabetes and can hold up to 200 units of insulin. Users can administer insulin for above-target blood sugar or mealtime dosing by squeezing the button on the side of the patch.

2. Glucose Monitoring Patches (CGM Patches)

a young girl with a glucose monitoring patch on her arm

Unlike insulin patches, glucose monitoring patches do not deliver medication. Instead, they are equipped with sensors that continuously track blood glucose levels. These diabetes sensor patch or diabetic patch sensor devices provide real-time data and trends on glucose levels via a connected digital device, such as a smartphone or a dedicated reader. This continuous feedback can help you make informed diet, exercise, and medication decisions. Currently, it is estimated that there are approximately 2.4 million users of continuous glucose monitors in the United States, with millions more worldwide.

Which CGM brands are approved by the FDA?

Currently, several CGM patch brands have received approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for use in the management of diabetes. These brands include:

  • Dexcom: Dexcom is available in the United States for individuals two years and older with diabetes. The adhesive backing is typically placed on the abdomen for ten days. A transmitter clicks into a plastic saddle to send data to a receiver or a compatible smartphone. After ten days, the adhesive is removed and replaced with a new one, while the transmitter can be reused for subsequent applications.
  • Freestyle Libre: Freestyle Libre has two versions: Freestyle Libre 2 and Freestyle Libre 14-day CGM. Freestyle Libre 2 is approved for children four years and older, while the 14-day CGM is available for all individuals with diabetes. The device is placed on the back of the upper arm and replaced every 14 days. Glucose readings are displayed continuously, with data updated every minute.
  • Guardian Connect System: The Guardian Connect System patch is worn on the stomach or arm and should be changed every seven days. It is recommended for individuals aged 14 to 75 years old with diabetes. Like other CGM systems, it continuously monitors glucose levels and sends data to a compatible device for real-time tracking and analysis.

How Do Diabetic Patches Work?

Diabetic Patches, such as insulin patches and continuous glucose monitoring systems, work differently but aim to help manage the condition. Insulin patches, like a blood glucose monitor patch, involve a small cartridge filled with fast-acting insulin attached to a patch on the body. The insulin enters the bloodstream through a tiny needle held in place by the patch, reducing the need for daily insulin injections.

On the other hand, CGM patches, also known as sugar monitor patches, require placing a sensor on the skin, which communicates with a device, sometimes a smartphone, to scan and provide information about blood sugar levels. While the insulin patches deliver medication directly, the continuous glucose monitoring system doesn’t administer medication but provides vital data for managing diabetes effectively. These technologies, including the best glucose monitor patch options, offer convenience and improved control for individuals with diabetes.

What Are the Benefits of Using Diabetic Patches?

Using diabetic patches offers several benefits, making managing the condition easier and less painful compared to traditional methods. One significant advantage is their convenience, especially with insulin patches like a diabetes patch on the arm, as they eliminate the need for frequent injections. Additionally, continuous glucose monitoring systems featuring a glucose sensor patch offer continuous monitoring of blood sugar levels, allowing for better control throughout the day.

This constant monitoring helps individuals make timely adjustments to their diet, medication, and lifestyle, leading to more stable blood sugar levels. Moreover, the blood sugar patch monitor reduces the discomfort associated with frequent finger pricks, providing a more comfortable experience for those with diabetes.

Are Diabetic Patches Effective for Everyone?

a young girl with a glucose monitoring patch on her arm while holding a phone

While diabetic patches offer promising benefits, their effectiveness can vary from person to person due to individual factors and limitations. For some individuals, such as those who struggle with frequent injections or have difficulty monitoring blood sugar levels consistently, diabetic patches like a diabetes monitor patch or blood glucose patch can be highly effective.

However, they may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or allergies to the components of the patches. Additionally, individuals who require precise insulin dosing adjustments or have fluctuating insulin needs may find it challenging to rely solely on patch-based delivery systems.

Therefore, the effectiveness of diabetic patches depends on factors such as individual preferences, lifestyle, and medical history. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine whether diabetic patches are the best option for managing the condition based on individual needs and circumstances.

How Much Do Diabetic Patches Cost?

The cost of diabetes patches can vary depending on the type and brand. For instance, a diabetes patch on the arm cost may range from $4,500 to $6,500 on average for insulin patches. On the other hand, CGM patches typically have their own pricing structure, including the initial cost of the sensor and ongoing costs for supplies like replacement sensors.

Compared to traditional methods of glucose monitoring and insulin delivery, such as fingerstick testing and insulin injections, diabetes patches may initially appear more expensive. However, they can be cost-effective in the long run due to reduced healthcare expenses associated with complications from poorly managed diabetes. It’s essential to check with your healthcare provider and insurance company to understand coverage options and potential out-of-pocket costs for diabetes patches.

What Are the Potential Risks or Side Effects?

Using diabetes patches, such as glucose patches or blood sugar patches, may pose some potential risks or side effects. One common issue is skin irritation or allergic reactions at the patch application site, ranging from mild redness to more severe dermatological problems. Additionally, accuracy issues with continuous glucose monitoring systems can occur, leading to incorrect blood sugar readings and potentially affecting diabetes management decisions.

Device failure, including sensor malfunction or adhesive detachment, is another concern that may result in gaps in the monitoring or delivery of insulin. It’s crucial for users to regularly monitor their skin for any signs of irritation, calibrate glucose sensors as recommended, and promptly address any technical issues with the patches to minimize risks and ensure effective diabetes management.

What Are the Natural and Herbal Diabetic Patches?

Natural and herbal diabetic patches, particularly those marketed over-the-counter, often claim to utilize Chinese Herbal Medicine for Diabetes to manage the condition. However, it’s essential to note that these products lack FDA approval and credible research supporting their effectiveness. Despite their availability in some drugstores and online retailers, there is limited scientific evidence to validate the claims made by these patches.

While Chinese herbal medicine is commonly used in China for various health conditions, including diabetes, its efficacy and safety for diabetes management have not been sufficiently studied or verified. As a result, individuals considering these herbal patches should exercise caution and consult with healthcare professionals before using them to ensure safe and effective diabetes management.

How to Choose the Right Diabetes Patch?

n elderly couple sitting together, with a glucose monitoring patch visible on the woman's arm.

Choosing the right diabetes patch is essential for effectively managing the condition, and it’s important to consider individual needs and preferences. Before selecting a patch, consulting healthcare professionals, such as doctors or diabetes educators, is crucial to receive personalized guidance and recommendations.

Factors to consider when choosing a glucose monitor patch include lifestyle, level of comfort with technology, frequency of blood sugar monitoring, and specific diabetes management goals. Additionally, evaluating the features and capabilities of different patches, such as insulin delivery options or continuous glucose monitoring, can help individuals determine which type best fits their needs. By seeking guidance from healthcare professionals and carefully assessing available options, individuals can make informed decisions to select the most suitable diabetes patch for their unique circumstances.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, diabetic patches offer innovative solutions for managing diabetes effectively. Insulin patches provide a convenient alternative to injections, while continuous glucose monitoring patches offer real-time data for better control. Although they may not be suitable for everyone and come with potential risks, diabetic patches can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with diabetes. Consulting healthcare professionals and considering individual needs are essential in choosing the right patch.

FAQs ON Diabetic Patches

Where should a diabetic patch be placed?

Some users struggle to self-insert the sensor in their arms and buttocks. The sensor should be inserted at least 2 inches (5 cm) from the navel and 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the insulin pump infusion site.

Why do diabetics develop patches?

Diabetes can lead to changes in small blood vessels, causing diabetic dermopathy. This condition manifests as light brown, scaly oval or circular patches.

How safe are diabetic patches?

FDA has approved these patches as safe. However, nonprescription “diabetic patches” available online claim to treat symptoms with herbs through the skin, with no evidence of effectiveness.

Is an insulin patch painful?

Insulin patches deliver insulin painlessly through the skin, similar to nicotine or muscle pain relief patches.

Do you need a prescription for a glucose patch?

CGM has gained popularity even among non-diabetics. With Dexcom’s FDA-cleared Stelo, CGMs will be accessible without a prescription.

Do glucose patches involve needles?

Glucose patches do not penetrate the skin and provide accurate readings from hair follicles, eliminating the need for blood sampling.

Is wearing a patch necessary for type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes patches are suitable for Type-1 and advanced Type-2 diabetes patients requiring frequent insulin shots.

What sets an insulin pump apart from a patch?

Traditional insulin pumps can be inconvenient to carry, unlike waterproof patches that offer comfort and convenience during daily activities like showering, swimming, or exercising.

Sources

Ginsberg, B. H. (2019). Patch Pumps for Insulin. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 13(1), 27–33.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313281/

Wood, M. (2023, March 20). This diabetes technology is transforming care one meal at a time, expert says. The Reporter | UAB. https://www.uab.edu/reporter/patient-care/advances/item/10003-this-diabetes-technology-is-transforming-care-one-meal-at-a-time-expert-says