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Diabetes Patches: How Do They Work for Blood Sugar Management?

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People with diabetes, a chronic disease that causes high blood sugar levels, have long used daily insulin injections to manage their condition. However, this method can cause inconvenience and pain, which can lead to poor adherence and suboptimal blood sugar control. 

A revolutionary invention, the glucose monitoring patch, promises to change how people manage diabetes. These wearable devices, which deliver insulin through the skin without needles, are becoming a viable alternative to traditional insulin injections. 

Also known as insulin patches or blood sugar patches, diabetes monitoring patches are comfortable, pain-free, and deliver insulin consistently throughout the day. This helps control blood glucose levels more effectively, lowering the risk of diabetes-related complications. 

Moreover, patches like Nutrisense have sensors that monitor blood glucose levels in real-time, providing valuable data for fine-tuning insulin dosage and timing.

Nutrisense Continuous Glucose Monitoring Program

Alex Skryl, Kara Collier and Dan Zavortony founded Nutrisense in Chicago in 2019. They are a health technology company that focuses on preventing metabolic problems.

People with type 1 diabetes usually use CGMs to keep track of their blood sugar levels. But Nutrisense reviews say CGMs can also help you live a healthier lifestyle and achieve your wellness goals. They claim that CGMs can improve athletic performance, aid weight loss and foster good habits. 

Nutrisense offers a program that combines CGM data with expert advice from dietitians to help you learn how your body reacts to glucose. It has a global team of more than 120 people, including doctors and dietitians. They serve thousands of customers who want to “discover and reach their health potential”, as their mission states.


  • You can see how your glucose levels change with food, exercise and sleep in real time.
  • The app guides you through everything from inserting the monitor to understanding glucose, nutrition and metabolism.
  • Choose a dietitian who suits your health goals and preferences.
  • Use your FSA or HSA to pay for the service.


  • The app can be hard to navigate because it has many features.
  • You have to pay $100 per month for ongoing dietitian support after the first month.
  • The service does not accept health insurance.

How Nutrisense Works

You can start using Nutrisense by filling out a health survey and choosing your goals and coach on their website. A doctor will check if you qualify for a CGM (which you need a prescription for in the U.S.) and send it to your address by mail.

  • How to use the sensor:
    • Stick it to your upper arm with a needle and a patch.
    • It measures your glucose in the fluid around your cells.
    • You can wear it for up to 14 days and do any activity.
  • How to scan the sensor:
    • Scan it with your phone every eight hours or whenever you want.
    • The app shows you your blood sugar levels by the hour.
    • The app gives you a glucose score from one to 10: green is good, orange is okay, and red is bad.
  • How to get insights from the app:
    • The app shows you colored average glucose scores (daily, weekly and more).
    • The app gives you a meal score that tells you how your glucose responds to a meal.
    • You enter your meals with ingredients and time: higher scores are better.
  • Other features of the app:
    • The app tells you your average, minimum and maximum glucose values for a period.
    • The app tells you your sleep average (from fasting glucose) and your morning average (the last two hours of fasting).

You can talk to a dietitian who can help you improve your blood sugar numbers. This is free for the first month, but then you pay $100 per month.

Nutrisense works with other health apps, like Apple watch, Fitbit, Oura ring, Garmin devices and Samsung watches, to track your steps and exercise automatically.

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Understanding Diabetes Patches

Diabetes patches are designed to deliver insulin or monitor blood glucose levels through the skin, eliminating the need for traditional injections or finger pricks. These blood sugar patches are not mere stickers; they are part of comprehensive diabetes management systems tested and approved by the FDA for safety and efficacy.

It is essential to distinguish between FDA-approved patches and nonprescription “diabetic patches” available online or at some drugstores. The latter claim to treat symptoms using a combination of herbs, but limited evidence supports their effectiveness. [1]

The Technology Behind Diabetic Monitoring Patches

Diabetic monitoring patches use a combination of microneedle patch technology and sensor technology. Microneedle patch technology involves microscopic needles that penetrate the skin to deliver insulin. These needles are so small that they do not cause pain or tissue damage, making the diabetes monitor patch comfortable.

The sensor technology used in diabetic patches is typically a glucose oxidase sensor, which measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid (the fluid surrounding cells in the body). This sensor for diabetes monitors glucose levels and transmits the data to a device, which can be programmed to alert the user if glucose levels are too high or too low. [2]

Let’s delve into the various types of diabetes patches and their functionalities.

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Insulin Patch-Pump

Insulin patch pumps, often called “artificial pancreas” systems, are groundbreaking devices designed to facilitate automated insulin delivery. This automated insulin delivery system consists of a continuous glucose monitor, an insulin pump, and an algorithm-driven controller that dictates insulin delivery without requiring manual input.

These patch pumps are particularly advanced due to their ability to mimic the insulin regulation function of a healthy pancreas. They are designed to adhere to the skin, eliminating the need for external tubing. Importantly, they are small, lightweight, and inconspicuous, providing increased comfort and discretion for users. [3]

The Rationale Behind Insulin Patch Pumps

The driving force behind the development of insulin patch pumps is the need to address the significant prevalence of hypoglycemia and severe hyperglycemia associated with conventional insulin delivery methods. 

Insulin patch pumps aim to alleviate these concerns by providing a more reliable and controlled insulin delivery, thereby reducing the frequency of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Furthermore, the usage of insulin pumps has been demonstrated to lessen the occurrence of severe hypoglycemic events compared to multiple daily injections (MDI). [4]

Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems

Continuous glucose monitoring systems utilize a sensor placed on the skin, which works with a compatible device, such as a smartphone, to provide real-time blood glucose information. Although these systems do not deliver medication directly, they offer valuable insights into blood sugar patterns. 

It is important to note that a prescription is required to obtain a continuous glucose monitoring system.[5]

Anatomy of a Continuous Glucose Monitor

A continuous glucose monitor is a device that estimates your glucose levels at regular intervals, recording the data over a period of time. This device comprises three integral components:

  • Sensor: A tiny sensor inserted beneath your skin, commonly on the belly or arm region. This sensor is attached with an adhesive patch that ensures it remains in place. Depending on the sensor type, these disposable sensors must be replaced periodically, typically every few weeks.
  • Transmitter: The transmitter is responsible for wirelessly conveying the information obtained from the sensor to the third part of the CGM system.
  • Software: The final part is a software program that stores the transmitted information. This software can be installed on a smartphone device, an insulin pump, or a standalone device known as a receiver. [5] 

Diverse Types of Continuous Glucose Monitors

All CGMs provide an accurate estimate of blood glucose levels, but they store and display the information in different ways. “Real-time” CGM devices, as some CGMs are known, send and show the information to your smartphone or receiver automatically. [6]

“Intermittent scan” CGMs estimate glucose levels continuously, but you have to scan them manually with a separate receiver or smartphone every few hours to see and save the data. 

A third type of CGM collects data about your blood glucose level for your doctor to download and review later. You wear this type of CGM for a limited duration.

Differences between CGM models include:

  • Whether the sensor is placed on the skin or implanted
  • Sensor replacement frequency
  • The duration it takes for the CGM to warm up
  • The process of adjusting the program settings

For some CGM models, a finger-prick test with a standard blood glucose monitor is required to calibrate the system and ensure the accuracy of the CGM readings. [6]’

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Experimental Insulin Patches

Insulin patches are a novel form of insulin delivery that aims to provide a painless alternative to traditional injection methods. Unlike transdermal patches used for nicotine or pain relief, these patches are designed to deliver insulin through the skin. 

The goal is to eliminate the need for needles or cannulas, making insulin administration more comfortable and convenient for individuals on insulin therapy. However, further research is necessary before their implementation in human diabetes management. [7]

How Do They Work

Insulin patches work by being placed directly on the skin. The patch contains agents that help insulin pass through the skin and into the bloodstream. Unlike traditional injections or pumps, they offer a controlled and consistent insulin release over hours.

Different types of insulin patches have been developed to address specific needs.

  • Bolus Insulin Patches: These patches are designed to release insulin quickly to counteract rises in blood sugar levels following meals. Researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal have developed a bolus insulin patch using pectin insulin-containing dermal patches. 

Although these patches have only been tested in rats, the initial results indicate their potential as a viable treatment option in the future. [8]

  • Basal Insulin Patches: Basal insulin patches aim to counteract the gradual release of glucose by the liver throughout the day. 

Herbal Over-the-Counter Patches

While major retailers may sell over-the-counter “diabetes patches” containing a blend of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, it is crucial to recognize that these patches are not FDA-approved. Limited research exists on the effectiveness of these herbal patches, and their claims should be approached with caution.

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How Does a Diabetes Arm Patch Work?

A diabetes arm patch delivers insulin through the skin and into the bloodstream using microneedle technology. The patch is usually applied to the skin of the upper arm, where it adheres securely and painlessly. The microneedles in the patch penetrate the skin and deliver insulin from a reservoir in the patch into the bloodstream.

The diabetes monitoring patch also contains a sensor that continuously monitors blood glucose levels. This sensor measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid and sends the data to a device like a smartphone. The user can then use this data to adjust insulin dosage and timing.

How to Use a Diabetes Monitoring Patch

Using a diabetes monitoring patch is relatively straightforward. First, the patch is applied to the skin, usually on the upper arm. The patch adheres to the skin securely and painlessly, with the microneedles penetrating the skin to deliver insulin.

Once the patch is in place, it monitors blood glucose levels and delivers insulin as needed. The user can view the glucose data on a device, such as a smartphone, and adjust insulin dosage and timing as necessary. The patch must be replaced every few days or as directed by a healthcare provider.

It’s important to note that while a diabetes patch can greatly aid diabetes management, it is not a replacement for regular check-ups with a healthcare provider. Diabetes is a complex disease that requires comprehensive care, and a diabetes patch is just one tool in the toolbox.

The Effectiveness of Diabetic Patches: A Look at the Research

Several research studies have supported the effectiveness of diabetic patches. A study found that diabetic patches improved glucose control and reduced the risk of hypoglycemia compared to traditional insulin injections. Other studies have reported similar findings, with diabetic patches improving patient compliance and quality of life. [9]

However, it’s important to note that while diabetic motoring patches have shown promise in clinical trials, they are not a cure for diabetes. Diabetes management requires a comprehensive approach, including diet, exercise, and regular medical check-ups. Diabetic patches are a valuable tool but are not the only solution.

Accessibility and Affordability of Diabetes Monitoring Patches

While diabetic patches offer many advantages, their cost is one of the main barriers to their widespread use. Currently, diabetic patches are more expensive than traditional insulin injections. However, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits of improved glucose control and better quality of life, which could offset the higher upfront cost.

Regarding accessibility, diabetic patches are becoming increasingly available in many countries. Many insurance companies also cover the cost of diabetic patches, making them a viable option for many patients. As technology advances and competition increases, it’s likely that the cost of diabetic patches will decrease, making them more accessible to a wider population.

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FAQs About Diabetes Patches

Have more questions about diabetes patches? We answered the internet’s most asked questions below.

What Is a Diabetes Patch?

A diabetes patch is a wearable device that delivers insulin through the skin using microneedle technology. Some patches also incorporate sensor technology for continuous glucose monitoring.

How Does a Diabetes Patch Work?

A diabetes patch delivers insulin through the skin and into the bloodstream using microneedles. The patch also contains a sensor that continuously monitors blood glucose levels.

What Are the Advantages of Diabetes Patches?

Diabetes patches eliminate the need for painful injections, provide the best continuous glucose monitors, and are discreet and easy to use.

Are Diabetes Patches Effective?

Research has shown that diabetes patches can improve glucose control and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. However, they are not a cure for diabetes and should be used as part of a comprehensive diabetes management plan.

Are Diabetes Patches Affordable?

Currently, diabetes patches are more expensive than traditional insulin injections. However, many insurance companies cover the cost of diabetes patches, likely decreasing as technology advances and competition increases.

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The diabetes patch is a breakthrough device that offers a convenient and effective way to manage diabetes. It combines insulin delivery and blood glucose monitoring in a painless and comfortable way. However, not all patches are safe and reliable. 

People with diabetes should be careful about choosing FDA-approved patches and consult their healthcare professionals for guidance. 

By making smart choices and staying informed, they can take control of their diabetes and improve their quality of life.


[1] – Commissioner, O. of the FDA authorizes first fully interoperable continuous glucose monitoring system, streamlines review pathway for similar devices, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: (Accessed: 04 August 2023).

[2] – Ng LC, Gupta M. Transdermal drug delivery systems in diabetes management: A review. Asian J Pharm Sci. 2020 Jan;15(1):13-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ajps.2019.04.006. Epub 2019 Jun 22. PMID: 32175015; PMCID: PMC7066029.

[3] – Yao PY, Ahsun S, Anastasopoulou C, et al. Insulin Pump. [Updated 2022 Sep 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

[4] – Ghazanfar H, Rizvi SW, Khurram A, Orooj F, Qaiser I. Impact of insulin pump on quality of life of diabetic patients. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Jul-Aug;20(4):506-11. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.183472. PMID: 27366717; PMCID: PMC4911840.

[5] – Continuous glucose monitoring – NIDDK (no date) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: (Accessed: 04 August 2023).

[6] – Reddy N, Verma N, Dungan K. Monitoring Technologies- Continuous Glucose Monitoring, Mobile Technology, Biomarkers of Glycemic Control. [Updated 2023 Jul 8]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000-. Available from:

[7] – Zhang Y, Yu J, Kahkoska AR, Wang J, Buse JB, Gu Z. Advances in transdermal insulin delivery. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2019 Jan 15;139:51-70. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2018.12.006. Epub 2018 Dec 8. PMID: 30528729; PMCID: PMC6556146.

[8] – Hadebe SI, Ngubane PS, Serumula MR, Musabayane CT. Transdermal delivery of insulin by amidated pectin hydrogel matrix patch in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats: effects on some selected metabolic parameters. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 2;9(7):e101461. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101461. Retraction in: PLoS One. 2021 Feb 11;16(2):e0247150. PMID: 24987850; PMCID: PMC4079503.

[9] – Berget C, Messer LH, Forlenza GP. A Clinical Overview of Insulin Pump Therapy for the Management of Diabetes: Past, Present, and Future of Intensive Therapy. Diabetes Spectr. 2019 Aug;32(3):194-204. doi: 10.2337/ds18-0091. PMID: 31462873; PMCID: PMC6695255.