Allergy to sticky cardioversion pads

I mentioned in an earlier post that in the past I have developed Urticaria after having ablations and cardioversions.

Yesterday I had a cardioversion and today the site of the patch they stuck to my back is very itchy the edges of which look like crawling ants.

I was wondering if anyone else has had such a problem and if so what remedy did you find?


36 Replies

  • The sticky pads attaching the leads on a heart monitor cause red patches and itchiness for me. I would not want to wear one of those contraptions in very hot weather. As such my skin is not prone to problems.

  • Part of the problem is probably slight burning like sun burn. I had similar from radiotherapy. Aqueous cream is very soothing and should help Pete. I always get red blotches from hospital sticky things and tell them at any pre-med under any allergies?

  • Morning Bob

    Yes I too am of a mind that this time it is the radio frequency burns that have triggered the reaction. In the past they have cardioverted me with 100 Joules or 125 Joules but this time they did 2 x 200 Joules.

    It is also starting to abate.

    Notwithstanding that I have multiple allergies and if they do not clean off the glue immediately I get a reaction. My skin is very sensitive anyway.

    Thanks for your comments


  • I have a terrible allergy to adhesive (I sure chose the wrong condition for this allergy :-(

    so it is listed on all my medical records and they take great care with me to use the most hypoallergenic products they have, and to leave EKG leads etc on for the fewest seconds possible.

  • Morning SRM Grandma

    You sound exactly the same as me with ECG (EKG) leads. I took photos of my skin with all the allergic skin wheals after the last ablation and sent them to the Cardiologist. This was a good move as before they did not take me seriously on one occasion having electrodes still stuck on me hours later when my back was exposed for the first time after the ablation.

    Now the photographs I sent are prominent in my hospital file.

    On Tuesday they all took the matter very seriously. They avoided an ECG until the last minute. The cannula was only put into my vein in the Cath Lab and the nursing sister washed my skin afterwards. I think it all helped.

    Following my worst reaction in 2013 I was referred to a Dermatology Consultant who patch tested me and apparently I am allergic to over 100 different chemicals.

    The way forward now is to avoid as non of the cortisone creams or antihistamine tablets have any effect.


  • Gee Pete, we both chose the wrong thing to have with this allergy! It is good to be taken seriously! When I was initially diagnosed and had to wear a 30 day Holter monitor I had to stop after 2 weeks, despite every hypoallergenic patch there was because my skin just started bleeding! It's tough to be so sensitive! Glad you are finding a routine that works for you too!

  • I get an allergic reaction to most of the adhesives used for dressings tapes etc as well as the sticky pads for ecg. It only occurs on the skin on the torso mainly because the skin on the arms and legs tends to be a bit more resilient. I have to tell the clinicians every time to remove them as quick as possible and they understand. I once had such a bad reaction to mepore dressings that the underlying skin sloughed off leaving open sores where the adhesive had been!

    Actually Bob D. Aqueous cream isn't really recommended any more as the sodium lauryl sulphate ingredient has been found to be highly irritant at times so medics tend to avoid it for new use

    I recommend diprobase cream but a steroid would get rid of it quicker like hydrocortisone both available at the pharmacy or you can access myriad of better emollient creams through the district nurses or gp. (Hydrocortisone not recommended on broken skin btw )

    Hope this helps 😀

  • OK It is four years since I was almost bathing in the stuff during 33 sessions of radiotherapy so I stand corrected.

  • Pete

    What works for some doesn't for others.

    I was using another similar cream for years and it worked. I suddenly had a reaction and when they patch tested me it was found that I had developed an allergic to to the aqueous cream I had been using. I think that our reaction changes the longer we use something.


  • It's actually not as irritant if you're using it as a soap substitute and washing it off. But there are better products now 😀

  • I agree I only use a product called Double Base for showering and Eucerin hair shampoo. To keep the urticaria at bay I use a herbal cream which contains Hypericum and Calendula that is made by a lady I know who lives in the New Forest.

    The steroid cream makes me worse and sticky tape, even microporous tape leaves a red mark if only left on me for a few minutes.


  • I sympathise with you as I have the same reaction nearly drives me mad I have had 7 cardio version each time the reaction is worse the doc has now given me some cream with a steroid in it works great

  • Urticaria can drive you to distraction I agree.

    For some steroid cream really works. For me no.

  • I suspect that it won't be the steroid you're reacting to? But maybe the base it's in. However that doesn't really help either!

    Allergies are difficult. 😣

  • Me too. Drives me crash. With the last couple of cardioversions I asked the nurses to give me cold packs ASAP. Then use these at home. Certainly helps. I've found all sorts of ointments useless.

  • Yes cold does give some relief. In fact for me it was they only way I had any relief.

    The worst period I had I was so bad that I was having ice cold showers and baths every 30 minutes to stay sane. I had such bad rashes on my upper legs and back that I could not lie down and on two separate nights spent the whole night standing up and taking cold showers every 30 minutes.

    I do not need to tell you that unlike athletes who regularly do this for me having just had an ablation on my heart it was not good and made my heart race.

    I felt terrible. The problem lasted 5 months as if the AF and ablation was not enough to have to deal with.


  • I had a severe burn on my back after my first ablation. Took months to heal. It was found out that it was becos my hairy back was not shaved prior to the patches, and the consequent air pockets created a bad burn. My later two (successful) ablations my back was shaved, and no further problems.


  • This happened to a friend of mine and she most definitely does NOT have a hairy back. Took many many months to heal. Suspect was sweat build up.

  • Did not shave my back but having said that I only have longer hairs on my chest which they did shave.

    Glad you were OK on the two later ablations.


  • I did think it was a burn for six months until the EP looked at it and said it was the HAIR. When all was shaved the ablations had no burn marks. Maybe there are more than one ccause.


  • When I had an ablation (they did have problems but that is not the point) I had several areas on my skin which were left with the remains of the glue they use when attaching electrodes etc. These were not amenable to soap and water, and it looked as if I had had multiple round labels attached as if I were a book which when removed left a grey goo. I asked what to do at a check-up and was told that nail varnish remover is a suitable solvent. I don't wear nail varnish but the cost of a large bottle is not enormous. I am not allergic to the glue but it may be that if it is removed immediately like this rather than later there would be fewer problems. The nail varnish remover left can always be used to try to remove other traces of glue left by sticky labels and as a general solvent. If doing this make sure that you are in a well ventilated area and not near any open flames.

  • I think that nail varnish remover would be the last straw for me it is too aggressive for my skin.

    I think they should clean your skin it is not an unreasonable request, one which on Tuesday the nursing staff were happy to do.

    On one occasion they not only left the glue but left a patch complete with an electrical cable.


  • The best thing that Ihave used for removing sticky labels is WD40. Do you know what it is ? FISH OIL

  • Wow that's a new one.

    I just use double base and water


  • There was a feature on Facebook entitled 100 uses for WD40. You had to guess what was in it.

    It's very versatile is fish oil.

  • Just washing areas with double base gets it off? Does it remove all of the sticky residue?

  • Yes certainly from ECG glue.

    On Tuesday they used a medical wipe- not so sure about that as I am still itchy two days later but at least they tried which is more than they did last time.


  • Interesting, I'll remember that.

  • There is a product I was given for removing convenes called Appeel which as you might guess is very gentle for removing sticky stuff.

  • I've never been able to get the glue from the stickers off with nail polish remover, have tried all sorts of things without success.

  • My last cardioversion left a mark that looked as if an iron had been pressed on to me and was painful for a few days.

  • Cardio pads leave a burn on me too. They usually give me a tube of flamazine works every time. Good luck

  • I am also allergic to the patches. I told the nurse and she used a different type. No more problem

  • Yes they tested lots of different ones on me but when it comes down to arriving at hospital in need the 'correct' patches are not always available and in my case they found it difficult to identify ones that were OK.


  • for me, the blue ones are ok. The pink are a definite no no but Im a redhead and have really senisitive skin.When i was giving up smoking I had to use the patch on my leg, had run out of torso and arm skin

  • I had an ablation surgery last year for Aflutter and ended up with red blotches like sunburn with a few pus spots where the EKG Pads were. Turns out I'm allergic to the EKG sensor adhesive. Well now the ablation surgery failed and I was in the ER and mentioned my allergy. The staff had a box of these small wipes that contain a solution that they wipe on and let it dry in the place where the sensors are to be stuck on. The smell is really stinky. This solution creates a barrier! I was able to have the sensors stuck on for ~ 48 hrs with no reaction and no sun burn or pus spots. I don't know what it was called. Then I went back to my regular heart doctor and they have NO IDEA what this is or how to buy it. I guess I will dig into this until they do their homework, or I find out what these wipes are called. In fact I was searching the web to find it now. If I do find it I'll come back here and make a subsequent entry.

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