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Cleaning Infusion Sites

Depending on your child’s reaction to set changes, you may find it helpful to first numb the site before inserting an infusion set.

Cleansing the Infusion Site:cleaning infusion sites with insulin pumps

As with all procedures where hygiene and avoiding infection is critical, it’s important to make sure hands are clean before starting the set change: if your child/teen is doing his own set change, he should wash his hands; if you are physically assisting with the set change, or doing the set change yourself, you should wash your hands, too.  Even with clean hands, it’s wise to avoid touching the end of the infusion set, the reservoir/cartridge needle, the open top of the reservoir/cartridge, and the top of the insulin bottle.

The planned infusion site also needs to be cleaned (an area about 7 or 8 cm in diameter). Cleansing with an alcohol swab is one often-recommended option. It may also work to use a small amount of regular soap, antibacterial soap, or antibacterial foam (such as Purell) instead. Some pump users plan set changes to follow baths or showers, for added hygiene.  Check with your child’s diabetes health care provider for individualized recommendations about site cleansing.

tips from the trenches of type 1 diabetesWhen we used alcohol swabs, we found that our son would get excessively dry skin, making it hard to find spots with healthy skin for new infusion sites. Since his endocrinologist suggested using only soap and water to clean the area before set changes, he has not had a problem with dryness. (We also haven’t had a problem with infections.) We put a small dab of soap on a damp paper towel, rub it onto his skin, then use another damp paper towel to wipe/rinse it off. This works well for us.
~Michelle

Our family has always used alcohol swabs for infusion site cleansing, and we have never had a problem, so that’s what we use.
~Danielle


The type of cleansers that your child uses before a set change, or simply as part of his regular bathing habits, could affect how well the infusion set stays on the skin. It may be wise to avoid using an ultra-moisturizing soap, or a soap designed for dry skin, on the body parts which you plan to use for infusion sites. These products may make the skin too “slippery” for an infusion set to adhere for the 2-3 days that you want it to stay on. For example, the following are great for dry skin, but not great for keeping infusion sets on:

  • Dove Moisturizing Bar
  • Cetaphil cream cleanser
  • Moisturizing bubble bath



Any questions? Comments? Feel free to Contact Us.



The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.

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