When To Change The Infusion Set

The infusion set and site should be changed frequently and regularly. A general rule of thumb is that a metal needle should be changed at least every two days (though some users successfully use them for longer), while a Teflon set should be changed at least every three days. However, your doctor or educator may recommend a different schedule based on your particular situation. For example, many doctors recommend more frequent set changes during pregnancy. Make sure you know and follow your team's advice about frequency of set changes. Do not change the infusion set before bed as you will need to be awake to know if the set is performing properly.

Your set and site should also be changed whenever you notice any irritation or discomfort at the infusion site and always when you have two unexplained high blood glucose readings in a row. Also, leaving the set in for too long may promote hardening of the skin tissue leading to poor absorption of insulin. This is often referred to as losing your site.

Pump users and health care professionals alike stress the fact that "if it's noticeable, something is wrong." Check or change your site at the first sign of irritation or discomfort. Irritation, discomfort or pain may be the first sign of a developing infection. Taking action immediately will keep little problems from turning into big ones.

Skin Irritation

Skin Irritation at the the infusion set site is much more common than infections. This may be caused by sensitivity to the tape being used or by sensitivity to the metal needle or plastic parts of the infusion set. If the irritation appears around the edges of your tape or dressing, try lifting the edges slightly all around the dressing. This creates a new contact edge and often alleviates the problem.

If the irritation appears wherever the tape touches the skin, you may be sensitive to the tape's adhesive or material. There are a couple of products which may prevent this kind of skin irritation.

Skin Prep (SKU MMT-175) is available in boxes of 50 pads/wipes. The wipes are applied to the skin like an alcohol wipe and allowed to dry. This will disinfect, cleanse and leave a protective film on the skin thus preventing direct contact of the adhesive from the infusion set to the skin. Skin Prep will also enhance adhesion.

Skin Prep


3M's Nexcare Spray Liquid Bandage (SKU MED 070482) is another very effective product which leaves a protective film on the skin. Simply point and spray then wait for it to dry and then apply the infusion set to the sprayed area.

Nexcare Spray


Another way to protect the skin from irritation caused by the infusion set adhesive or plastic part of infusion set housing is to apply a transparent dressing like IV 3000 or Tegaderm to the skin first and then insert the infusion set through the dressing.

IV 3000tegaderm


Metal sensitivity is another possible cause of irritation. If you experience irritation in areas that come in contact with a metal needle, try an infusion set with a Teflon cannula.

Treatment of Skin Irritations

First and foremost it is important to remove whatever is causing the irritation (infusion site, adhesive tape, dressing, etc). Relocate the infusion set to another location taking care to protect the skin as discussed previously. If there is no sign of infection, the skin may be treated with hydrocortisone cream 0.5% twice daily. This may be purchased at any pharmacy without a prescription. An infected site may be treated with a topical antibiotic ointment like Polysporin or Bacitracin applied 2-3 times daily.