The question ‘can you swim with a sensor’ is paramount for individuals relying on glucose management from their FreeStyle Libre when wanting to go for a swim, especially for those aiming to maintain an active lifestyle.
The short answer is yes
The FreeStyle Libre sensors have an IP27 water resistance rating, allowing users to shower, bath, and swim with confidence.
However, several factors can impact the sensor’s performance. For example, FreeStyle Libre guidelines emphasize their water-resistant nature but advise against exceeding the depth and duration limits. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the limitations of swimming with FreeStyle Libre, addressing concerns and ways to safeguard the FreeStyle Libre sensors from coming off.
IP27: The FreeStyle Libre sensors have undergone rigorous testing to meet the IP27 standards. These standards outline that the Libre will remain operational if submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
Parallels: While the sensors haven’t specifically been tested in seawater, there’s confidence that performance in seawater would parallel its performance in fresh water, as salinity is not expected to affect the sensor’s functionality.
Temperature: Its operational temperature range is between 50 °F to 113 °F (10°C to 45°C).
Adhesion: IP27 standards and operating temperatures are guidelines for the sensor’s functionality, but not the measurement of how well the sensor will stick to the skin in similar conditions.
Sensor Performance Factors in Water
Several factors can influence the behavior of the Freestyle Libre sensor during water-related activities. These factors may include;
Water Density: When the sensor is submerged the water acts as interference when the sensor transmits to the receiving device. So no glucose alerts can be received when under the surface. After a time of not receiving data the receiving device will alert the user to the loss of connection.
Adhesive Quality: The effectiveness of the adhesive is important in preventing sensor detachment, prompting users to explore additional adhesive patches, tape, or bands for enhanced security.
Sensor Age: The older the sensors, the weaker the adhesive is. For each day you wear the sensor the risk of detachment increases. Wearing a patch, tape or band is the best strategy to secure the sensor.
Heat Exposure: Wearing the sensor in a hot tub is permissible. However, the extended exposure to heat will weaken the adhesive significantly, with the potential to detach.
Rushing Water: Forces generated during water sports or sliding down water slides can impact sensor stability and adhesion.
Chemicals: The presence of chemicals in water is not accounted for in the IP67 standard. Real-world conditions may differ from testing conditions, affecting sensor performance.
Water Type: Different water types (chlorinated, saltwater, etc.) can affect the sensor uniquely. Rinsing the sensor with clean water after swimming in a pool or ocean helps remove potentially harmful substances.
Keeping the sensor on
The worst thing to happen when swimming in a pool or ocean is losing the FreeStyle Libre sensor. It ruins your swim, your blood glucose management, and your day. There are 3 main ways to protect the sensor from coming off when swimming, by using tape, patches, or a band to secure it to the body. Tape The first way is to use sports tape to fasten the sensor to the body. However, this method has a couple of drawbacks. Although it is a quick solution, tape can become increasingly uncomfortable and when it comes to taking it off, the adhesive also attaches to the sensor, making it difficult to take off without compromising the sensor.
Secures sensor for activity
Extremely hard to remove tape without compromising the sensor
Patch The most common approach is to use patches designed to secure your FreeStyle Libre (CGM sensor device). Each patch company is slightly different and creates slightly different products. Not Just a Patch FreeStyle Libre patches are designed to fit around your devices comfortably and are designed to replace when an edge starts to rise, without compromising the sensor.
Planning is required (Apply patch 1 hour before activity)
Comfortable for ongoing use
Added protection for daily life
Option to reapply fresh patch when required
Armband If you are planning to swim a lot and don’t mind investing in and wearing an armband to protect your FreeStyle Libre sensor, the Libreband is a specially designed-option.
On-demand usage. Wear the Libreband when in water and remove post activity with ease.
Durability. With a durable build, the Libreband ensures repeated wear, delivering prolonged protection for the sensor. Unlike tape and patches the Libreband doesn’t fray, or lift around the edges after extended wear.
Designed for swimming with a FreeStyle Libre
It’s an investment. As this is the most costly of options, it only is feasible if you are swimming every day and don’t plan to wear a patch.
Tips for Swimming With a Libre Sensor
Whether you’re a casual swimmer, triathlete, or open water enthusiast, protecting your Libre Sensor from damage helps you to continuously extract valuable insights about your body’s glucose response. Here are essential tips and recommendations for swimming with a FreeStyle Libre sensor.:
Check before you dive in: As the sensor will lose the ability to transmit or alert you to glucose changes while in the water, it is important to check before you go swimming.
Sensor Protection: To safeguard your CGM from potential damage or displacement in the pool, consider covering it with either a tape, patch, or armband.
Adhesive Wipes: Before a Libre sensor application, use adhesive wipes (SkinGlu) on your skin for added stickiness, beneficial for those leading an active lifestyle.
Stick Integrity: While swimming keep an eye on your sensor (or patch’s) contact with the skin. If the edge is starting to rise, it is more likely to catch water movement and compromise the sensor’s (or patch’s) contact with the skin. If the sensor’s edges start to come up, consider using a patch to improve longevity. If the patch’s edges start to come up, replace the patch for a piece of mind when going for a swim.
Post-Swim Rinse: Immediately rinse off after swimming to minimize the impact of chemicals or salt from the sea.
Dry-Off Sensor: Pat dry the sensor with a towel. Some patches and tapes may not be breathable and will hold moisture in. This will stop the sensor from operating. When the sensor is dry and back in range of its data-receiving device, the sensor should transmit data and go back to operating as normal.
Yes, you can swim with a FreeStyle Libre sensor. The sensor is IP27 rated, and designed to be submerged. The water-resistance rating recommended not going beyond the depth of 3 feet and not staying submerged for more than 30 minutes. Accessories like an armband by Love My Libre or a patch from Not Just a Patch can minimize the risk of losing a Libre sensor.
In summary, by understanding the limitations of the FreeStyle Libre and its adhesion, you can go swimming with your FreeStyle Libre sensor on.
*Disclaimer: The information within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only.
Dr. Adil has been a speaker at various medical conferences and health awareness campaigns, where he shared his research and findings, and advocated for accurate medical knowledge. He has been featured in publications such as Cardiology & Vascular Research, The Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine, and The Lancet.
Not Just a Patch is designed to give you more confidence while wearing your
Freestyle Libre, Dexcom or MiaoMiao devices. Our patches are created with the idea of offering
the best comfort and protection for your sensor.