EKG (electrocardiogram) is the simplest and quickest way to diagnose any cardiovascular complications. As an integral part of pre-operative assessment and clinical diagnostic tool, EKG is a go-to choice in monitoring patients.
With the use of small patches that stick to the skin, the machine can detect electrical impulses, measure, and print them out on records.
These records show how the heart is beating and whether there is a change in heart rate, which could indicate a potential heart issue.
The problem is, roughly 2% of the population will react to these patches or any gel they put on the skin, regardless of its concentration or composition.
The itchiness could turn into an allergic reaction to EKG electrodes.
If you find the EKG patch itchy, then you’ve come to the right place. This is a detailed analysis of the itchy sensations caused by the heart monitor and the practical ways to ease the discomfort. Here is how patients can overcome adhesive allergy symptoms.
Reaction to EKG Patches – What Does It Mean?
To fully understand the allergic reaction to EKG electrodes, it is important to cover the basics. Around 20% of the general population in Europe have a contact allergy to at least a single allergen. Many substances can cause a reaction. Such as applying particular jewelry, fragrances, cosmetic products, etc.
EKGs are non-invasive, safe, and painless tests that rely on electrodes (sticky patches) capable of linking the sensors to the chest.
It’s not uncommon for patients to develop mild skin irritation or a rash after use. That’s because a gel or a paste was applied to the electrodes. In most cases, the irritation subsides on its own. At other times, patients require adequate treatment.
This inflammatory skin condition is known as contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis happens more frequently in women than men. It tends to start at a young age, between 12 to 16 years, with a prevalence of 15%. There are two forms of contact dermatitis. These include allergic dermatitis and irritant dermatitis.
According to experts, allergic dermatitis means a substance that has been applied to the skin, has triggered an allergic reaction. This is delayed hypersensitivity in which a foreign substance touches the skin. Therefore altering the affected area. These changes, however, appear after re-exposure to the foreign substance.
According to research, medical adhesive bandages and other assessment tools are extensively used in outpatient and inpatient treatments. But, few reports describe the effect and prevalence of allergic contact dermatitis. This makes it difficult to analyze the full impact of the irritation.
Irritant dermatitis is slightly different. It means the skin becomes inflamed because of continued exposure to something. The irritant reaction is triggered by non-immune-modulated irritation of the affected area. A foreign substance makes the skin appear inflamed.
The Holter monitor’s itchy sensations could be caused by either of these reactions.
How to Recognize the Symptoms?
When a patient with an adhesive allergy uses adhesives for a long time, they can develop a skin rash. About 50% of patients can develop a skin rash. Their skin becomes bumpy, red, and inflamed. But, the symptoms tend to disappear in a couple of days without treatment.
When the rash feels like you’ve been in contact with poison ivy, and the inflammation reappears on the original site, that means you are experiencing allergic dermatitis.
With irritant dermatitis, the symptoms will vary.
But, they are often accompanied by swelling, blistering, dryness, open sores, and tight or stiff skin. Those who find the EKG patch itchy could be experiencing either of these irritations or they could develop a mild skin rash.
For people with sensitive skin, especially those allergic to adhesive, the patches can be a real problem.
A doctor can use patch testing to confirm if the electrodes are causing a reaction.
In case of an allergic reaction to EKG electrodes, the rash may need treatment.
How to Deal With Itchiness?
The fastest and easiest way to manage an adhesive allergy is to avoid exposing the skin to chemicals that cause a problem.
Those who experience an irritant reaction from the medicated transdermal patch can reapply the patch to a different location.
By changing the spot from time to time, the body can start to recuperate, and the symptoms will subside. But, if the reaction is severe or very itchy, patients may have to stop using the patch completely.
To ease the discomfort, your healthcare provider may suggest topical corticosteroids.
The most popular options include hydrocortisone 1% cream. This is an over-the-counter medicine that can help ease inflammation and discomfort. For those with serious and severe reactions, a stronger product may be necessary. But, a more potent version is only available with a prescription. If you find your regular EKG patch itchy,
Another option includes using EKG patches for sensitive skin.
There are EKG tools that use gentler and more soothing chemicals that won’t affect the skin. They use breathable tape and hypoallergenic compounds, making them a practical choice for repeated medical procedures.
Although the adhesives may still cause a reaction, the chemicals won’t aggravate the affected area as much as regular EKG patches would. Thus, providing a more comfortable experience.
EKG is a vital machine for monitoring the heart. Sometimes it can cause unwanted skin reactions like allergies, rashes, and irritations. Even though they are a relatively rare occurrence, reactions such as these can happen. Now that you know how to recognize and manage the problem, you will fully utilize your heart monitoring routine. With an on-time reaction, you can keep the discomfort at bay.