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Insulin Patches: Do they work?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Jan 05, 2023

    Insulin Patches: Do they work?

    One of the main methods that can help with the treatment of diabetes is strictly monitoring the sugar levels in your body. The goal is to keep the level of your sugar within the limits your doctor has set. People with diabetes will be experiencing a continuous rise in glucose levels as they eat. Which can lead to serious health complications. This is because of the insufficient amount of insulin in the body.

    Insulin and its Role in the Body

    Insulin helps break down the carbohydrates that you eat into glucose which is the primary source of energy for the body. As the glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas produces insulin which helps cells absorb glucose providing energy for the body.   

    Insulin levels will be high after you eat as a response to the carbohydrates you consume. This allows the excess glucose to be stored in the liver as glycogen, which is released when insulin levels are low, keeping sugar levels in your blood within a normal range.

    When you have diabetes, the levels of your glucose will continue to rise after you eat but will not be absorbed by the cells as energy.

    This is because the body does not produce enough insulin to allow glucose to be moved into the cells. Depending on the type of diabetes you have, your body is likely to produce little or no insulin, or doesn’t use insulin efficiently.

    There are different methods of taking insulin depending on your needs and lifestyle. You can’t take insulin as a pill or tablet because it will be digested long before it actually works.

    There are available options like insulin shots or pens, insulin pump or inhaled insulin. Recently, doctors and experts introduced the Insulin patch as a new form of insulin delivery.

    What is an Insulin Patch?

    As part of experiments and research regarding insulin delivery, an insulin patch offers a needleless and painless form of taking insulin. Think of it as a transdermal patch such as the relief patches for muscle pain or nicotine patches, insulin will be delivered through the skin.    

    The patch is thin, square-shaped and is covered with more than a hundred microneedles the size of an eyelash. The tiny needles contain a microscopic payload of glucose-detecting enzymes, which releases insulin when it detects a rise in blood sugar levels.

    Recent studies show that insulin patch proves effective for adults with type 2 diabetes. Although researchers are confirming its effects on the advanced stages of diabetes. 

    How To Use an Insulin Patch

    The insulin patch can be placed anywhere on the body. But in most cases, you can put it on the spots where you usually inject insulin.

    When placed on the skin, agents within the patch will activate the release of insulin, pass through the skin and into the bloodstream. The patch has a set of insulin doses enough to be absorbed over a number of hours. Researchers develop different types of patches that could release insulin more quickly after meals.

    When changing insulin patches, expose the edge that adheres to your skin and keeps the microneedles attached to your body. Slowly peel away in one swift motion.

    Remove remaining sticky residue with soapy water or isopropyl alcohol. In recent studies, the insulin patch could reduce levels of glucose in the blood for as long as nine hours.

    Risks and Side Effects

    The introduction of the insulin patch is, no doubt, a breakthrough in managing diabetes. But because it’s still in the process of development, there are a few side effects of the insulin patch, which hopefully can be fixed in the future.

    Such an occurrence happened on an animal test subject. They noted that some inflammation appeared at the site where they attached the patch. In human subjects, vomiting and nausea are noted side effects. But the researchers believe that if the release of the drug is slow enough, though side effects can be eliminated.

    Different types of insulin patches have been developed but the ones that are sold online or at some drugstores are not FDA approved and not the official insulin patches.

    One of the claims of these patches is that it can treat symptoms of diabetes with a mix of herbs. There is very little evidence on this claim and might be more dangerous than helpful. It is best to consult your healthcare provider before trying out different methods.

    Key Takeaway

    Having diabetes means committing to a lifetime of constant insulin intake, caution, and lifestyle changes. If insulin patches are developed and distributed successfully, patients do not have to prick themselves with needles over and over again after meals.

    They can go about their daily lives without worrying about their sugar and insulin levels. It will ensure a longer life free from health complications. This advancement will open new opportunities for a diabetes cure once and for all.

    Learn more about diabetes here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Jan 05, 2023

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