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New users of medical devices often have a long list of questions about how those devices work in daily life. One of the most common is whether or not their device can get wet. Between showering, swimming, cooking, and rainy days, it’s a valid concern. For some reason, people want to know if inclement weather will ruin the expensive piece of electronics that helps them stay alive. We can’t imagine why!
This is particularly true for people with an adventurous spirit. Not being able to get in the water is an important detail for people who are interested in white water rafting, triathlons, SCUBA, or even swimming in a mountain lake after a long hike. People with diabetes can do all of those things with a little prior planning. Skin Grip is gathering information to help you stay safe on your adventures.
The Short Answer
Generally speaking, it’s okay to get most CGM models a little wet. Unlike an iPod nano in 2006, a sprinkle of rain isn’t going to render it unusable, especially if they are protected by clothing. Most companies have designed their devices to be water-resistant. This means that small amounts of water at minimal depths are unlikely to damage the device. That said, water-resistant is not the same as waterproof. CGM companies have tested their devices up to specific depths and time periods; using your CGM outside of recommendations may result in damage to your device.
What does my CGM manufacturer recommend?
Below is a table showing the three most popular CGM devices and the recommended depth and time limits at which they will remain water-resistant. This water resistance refers only to the sensors, not receivers or smartphones, so keep in mind that the device you read your blood glucose on will likely need to remain onshore.
As you can see, 30 minutes of water resistance at a depth of only 3-8 feet isn’t much to work with. Water-resistance features may be sufficient for showering and making it through a rainstorm, but spending time submerged is less than optimal for CGM users. Submersion can not only damage the device itself but can easily wear away at the adhesive keeping it attached.
What if I want to go swimming?
There are myriad ways to extend time in the water while protecting our CGM. One way is by simply covering it. While some might recommend using simple medical tape for the job, most medical tapes are permeable, meaning water can leak straight through them. Skin Grip’s solution has been to design simple, waterproof adhesive patches for the Dexcom G4, G5, and G6, Freestyle Libre, Medtronic Guardian, and more. These patches protect the CGM while it’s in the water, and its waterproof adhesive ensures that the patch stays on.
These patches are an excellent solution for active lifestyles that include activities like swimming, boating, or surfing. Many users also use them to extend the life of their sensors while performing more common activities, like showering. While hot water can cause factory adhesives to peel away, Skin Grip’s adhesive patch adds a layer of protection, extending the use of your CGM to its full lifespan.
Others have suggested using rubber sleeves to cover their devices. While certainly possible as a solution, the sleeve must fit sufficiently tight to prevent water leakage while not cutting off circulation or becoming uncomfortable. For short periods of time, this could work.
Lastly, some surfers, divers, or cold-water lovers simply wear a dry suit. The suit keeps their body and CGM dry, warm, and protected. The obvious disadvantage is that few people want to roll into the neighborhood pool in a dry suit, especially on a hot summer day. The second drawback is that drysuits cost hundreds of dollars. For our money, we would rather use a patch.
There you have it. It is safe to get your CGM device a little wet, but not for very long. If you intend to spend extended amounts of time in or around the water, it is time to use protection. If you are interested in trying Skin Grip, explore our free samples. Tell us what kind of medical device you use, and we will send you a patch to try out. Once you see how much longer your device will last with Skin Grip (and the time/money you save on replacements), you won’t ever go back.