Diabetes Patches: Types, What They Are and Do They Work?

For over 10.5% (34.2 million) of the American population, diabetes is a serious health concern.

Not only is it a difficult illness to manage, but it is also very expensive. It requires rigorous insulin management and glucose control. 

Those with severe insulin problems need to take shots a couple of times a day. They take regular blood samples to control their blood glucose. Luckily, we’ve seen numerous breakthroughs. 

Scientists have created insulin patches and are about to develop a smart insulin patch that can revolutionize how diabetes is treated and monitored. Thanks to the latest technological advances, diabetes patches have become a more practical and easier option for managing this metabolic condition. 

The question is, can you trust all the diabetes patches to work? Which one can be the ideal insulin therapy? How effective these products really are? Here we will answer all your question for you. 

The good thing is, these products are not simple stickers. They are proper diabetes management tools tested by the FDA. We decided to take a closer look at the various insulin patches you can find. Including its benefits for your overall health. Here is all you need to know before using a product such as this. 

What Is the Insulin Patch, Exactly?

The primary function of the beta cells is to create and secrete insulin. This keeps the hormone levels in check and the organ system functioning normally. Diabetes, however, interferes with the blood insulin levels and makes it difficult for the system to work properly. 

The excess sugar level builds up in the blood and causes frequent urination. If left untreated, it could cause kidney damage, eye issues, heart problems, and more. Therefore, people need to supply the body with extra insulin and normalize their blood circulation. That’s where this patch can help.

The insulin patch is a very small adhesive. The insulin patch’s goal is to provide the body with a proper dose of insulin through the skin, quite like a nicotine patch, transdermal patch, or a muscle pain-relief patch.  

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What Kind of Insulin Patches Exist?

Diabetes treatment hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. People draw blood and monitor their blood sugar. When insulin is necessary, they use an insulin injection (with a pen-like device or a syringe) to control their condition. 

That’s why patients have always dreamed of getting a practical and smarter option for treating localized diabetic peripherals-something they could maybe be used as an adrenal tonic or energy booster. 

As a result, scientists have started working on multiple insulin patches that provide diabetics with the relief they need. 

There are a few options that could work for diabetes management. Each adhesive patch is designed with its own set of features. What’s important is that you learn to recognize these products. These different diabetes patch types include:

  • Constant glucose monitoring system

  • Insulin patch-pump

  • Experimental insulin patch

  • Herbal OTC (over-the-counter) patch

Here is what each product has to offer.

Constant Glucose Monitoring System

Patients use a sensor they get to stick to the outer layer of the skin. The device is meant to scan the blood glucose and daily patterns so that you can take better control of your diabetes. Even though it doesn’t actually deliver meds or comes in contact with the blood, it can send notifications to your smartphone and notify you of any abnormalities in your body. 

Insulin Patch-Pump

This diabetes device comes with a tiny cartridge that you fill with insulin. The cartridge will then be applied to the body. The device will use a needle to pinch the skin and administer insulin directly inside the blood. This is a great option for managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Experimental Insulin Patch

Scientists are working on a patch that will administer insulin by itself without the need for an additional device. It is a similar product to a nicotine patch that helps smokers quit their habit. It has created some amazing results in animal trials on mice. However, more studies are necessary before it could be used for human treatment.

Herbal OTC (Over-the-Counter) Patch

Also known as a diabetic patch or diabetes patches, these products are often not a good choice. They are not approved by the FDA, which means they haven’t had enough testing that proves these medications could be a worthy diabetes management solution. For example, products that offer outstanding activity and growth of bone-forming cells. Therefore, experts advise against using these. 

Managing Diabetes With No Standalone Patches

At the moment, there isn’t a standalone patch (with or without a prescription) that could monitor your blood and diabetes. The products that can aid patients with the disease feature more complex systems. 

However, certain patches could prove efficient in patients who have diabetes. For example:

  • Oxybutynin – this is a drug for an overactive bladder. It can only be taken from an OTC patch for men and women. Since diabetes can also cause nerve damage and bladder issues, this patch could prove useful.

  • Clonidine – is a typical option for managing blood pressure. It can be used as a transdermal patch to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure. That’s why it could be useful for individuals with diabetes. 

  • Transdermal Nitroglycerine – this product is used to avoid angina (chest pain) caused by a coronary artery disease. Because diabetes makes you vulnerable to angina, this product may reduce the risk.

Insulin Patch – How Does It Work?

The surface of the patch has adhesives that allow the user to stick the product on their skin. It also has agents inside the patch that provide the insulin with an option to get through the skin and inside the blood. 

When the insulin reaches the bloodstream, the body will control the blood glucose level and manage their metabolic condition. Also, the skin patch administers a set dose – ideal for every patient. The dose then passes through the blood and is absorbed in the system for the next couple of hours.

Various patches are created to administer insulin faster to counteract the increased blood glucose fluctuations after a meal. Like it is the case with the bolus insulin patch. 

Others are designed to counteract the slow glucose release through the entire day – the glucose released by the liver, like with the basal insulin patch. 

Benefits of Using a Smart Insulin Patch

These patches are seen as game changers in diabetes treatment. The primary purpose of these devices is to make the condition easier to treat. That way, patients can enjoy their daily activities without letting their condition take a toll on their emotional and physical wellbeing. 

Although there isn’t enough evidence to show if these patches could help with hair growth or provide patients with clean skin, they still have numerous benefits to offer. Such as:

Without a patch, patients must take blood samples during the day. This will keep them from experiencing any diabetes complications. The patch is meant to take all that inconvenience out of the way. It is supposed to provide constant monitoring that can help with the entire process. 

Some devices feature small microneedles that serve as monitoring sensors and insulin injectors. So, whenever the patient needs to use insulin, the product will directly deliver the chemical medicine to the bloodstream. 

The best thing is, people don’t need to worry about missing a dose or using too much insulin. The product administers only the ideal dosage, which makes it an excellent diabetes management strategy. Plus, its needles are just a millimeter long. So, pain and discomfort are minimal. 

Animal trials, particularly those tested on mice, show that the patch’s effects can last for 20h. Here is what makes the patch different from a typical traditional insulin pump. 

insulin patch

Challenges of Using a Patch 

Every device is not without its flaws. Although they might look like a simple insulin delivery method, the product comes with many challenges. First, researchers have to create a device that will guarantee successful insulin delivery. 

Because insulin is a big molecule, it’s not typically absorbed by the skin. Researchers had to find proper agents that will administer the insulin and help it pass through the skin. The second challenge was to find the right agents that will deliver the medicine consistently and in controlled amounts.

Since each diabetes patient will need a set amount of insulin for glucose control, the patch must ensure that the drug injected is not too low or too high to affect the blood sugar level. 

Advancements in a Smart Insulin Patch

Diabetes patients need a device that can help them monitor their blood sugar, inject insulin, and quickly deliver the medicine to the bloodstream. Those who want to avoid an insulin overdose need a product that will provide the exact amount of insulin necessary for the system.

Based on reports, there is one new smart patch that could fulfill all these requirements. It can revolutionize diabetes treatment and give diabetic patients the blood sugar control they’ve been looking for. 

The latest statistical analysis comes from the University of North Carolina Health Care. According to their reports, UCLA bioengineers have developed a smart patch that may both manage and monitor the glucose level in diabetes patients. It could then administer a proper insulin dose directly to the blood. 

This recent creation is as tiny as a small coin and can be easy to manufacture. It is designed with a glucose-sensing polymer that relies on insulin. 

The idea behind this smart patch is to create completely new diabetes management. It might be adapted with various drugs for treating multiple health issues. It takes away the need for patients to constantly do blood tests and inject themselves with insulin

Instead, it is designed to mimic the pancreatic function and inject the body with insulin when the system is ready to receive it. 

When Will This Diabetes Patch Hit the Market?

There is a lot of testing and research that goes into making the patch. Researchers need adequate funding and clinical trials with fool-proof results. But, most importantly, they need approval for a marketing strategy. 

The team hopes that the smart microneedle patch gets accepted in the next few years and be ready for distribution. Overall, the product is meant for once-a-day use. This smart patch has been tested on pigs and mice. Right now, the team is applying for human trials and FDA approval. 

What About Natural Treatment Options?

If you love the thought of using a “natural” patch for your condition, then you might like the information listed here. 

People all around the globe are looking to try natural treatments. They are unsatisfied with conventional treatment opportunities and want a more powerful method that will help their condition. 

That’s often because these treatments don’t work as much as the patients want them to. At other times, they create numerous side effects. But, most importantly, typical treatments for type 1 or type 2 diabetes are costly. That includes the patch as well. 

The price of insulin has skyrocketed over 50% in the last few years. If you want to reduce the need for conventional medicine, then consult with a doctor about other ways you can use to manage your condition, such as healthy diets, exercise, or weight loss routines. 

With enough hard work and dedication, you can treat your type 2 diabetes and be in complete control of your sugar level. You can also use some natural herbal combinations that can help manage your condition, like those often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Rehmannia is the go-to choice for type 1 diabetes management. The Rehmannia root is packed with natural healing properties. It can have a beneficial impact on diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, and glucose levels. 

Diabetes research shows that the Rehmannia six formula, the one typically used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, can prevent some diabetic complications. But, more research is necessary to study its full impact and you should talk to your doctor before taking anu such medication.


Diabetes treatment has come a long way. With the help of the current technological advances, it seems that glucose control is much easier to manage. Some patches are available for purchase, while others are still in the experimental phases. As long as you chose FDA approved or clinically tested products, you can reap the benefits.  

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  1. American Diabetes Association. (2017). Statistics About Diabetes. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes
  2. WebMD. (2019). Diabetes Patches: What Are They, and Do They Work. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-patches-what-are-they-do-they-work
  3. University of North Carolina Health Care. (2020). Coin-sized smart insulin patch, potential diabetes treatment. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200204163702.htm
  4. The Global Diabetes Community. (2019). Insulin Patch. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin/insulin-patch.html
  5. Kristen Dalli. (2020). Diabetes patients could benefit from new smart-technology insulin patch. Retrieved from: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/diabetes-patients-could-benefit-from-new-smart-technology-insulin-patch-020620.html
  6. Terry Yam Chuen Poon. (2011). Review of the effects of the traditional Chinese medicine Rehmannia Six Formula on diabetes mellitus and its complications. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21631896/
  7. Grazia Aleppo. (2019). Insulin Pump Overview. Retrieved from: https://www.endocrineweb.com/guides/insulin/insulin-pump-overview

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