If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you may be wondering why do finger pricks hurt so much? DigiVibe recognizes that this part of blood sugar monitoring can cause discomfort and anxiety for many people. In fact, fear of needles and finger prick pain are the most common sources of apprehension among people who need to monitor their blood sugar levels regularly.
Here are 10 tips for painless finger pricking
1. Use vibrating technology.
There is such a thing as painless finger pricking, believe it or not. We designed DigiVibe, a portable, vibrating device that effectively blocks pain signals to make finger pricking a painless part of your blood sugar monitoring routine.
Our product vibrates against your finger, which helps block pain signals to the brain within 12 seconds. By applying vibration to your testing site before pricking, your nerve endings are essentially too busy communicating the vibrating sensation to your brain to register pain. You can learn more about how it works here. The DigiVibe device can be used on any finger.
2. Know your equipment.
Knowing how to use your blood sugar monitoring equipment is the first essential step. If you’re not sure how to use your lancet or blood glucose monitor, it might result in having to prick your fingers multiple times for just one reading. Even after your doctor reviews the process with you, you will still need time to test your glucose levels with ease on your own. Read the instructions and check the manufacturer’s website for instructional walk-throughs.
DigiVibe includes an adjustable lancing device plus 30-gauge lancets, so you have everything you need for painless finger pricks.
3. Rotate your testing sites.
Many people have “favorite” fingers and areas to use for testing. Ideally, try to use all ten of your fingers and rotate your test sites regularly. Testing in the same places can lead to inflammation and development of calluses, and it may form scars and become painful areas. Depending on the glucose meter you use, you may be able to test in other areas than your fingers, such as your forearm or palm.
4. Keep track of your test sites.
It can be hard to remember exactly where you tested last or where to finger prick next. Some have a preferred finger to prick or use the same spot over and over out of habit and don’t even realize they’re doing it. It may be helpful to create a visual log or “hand map” of your testing sites. To make one, trace your hands onto a piece of paper and make dots to mark where you’ve tested during the week. This can help make sure you’re regularly rotating testing spots and not overusing any particular finger or location.
5. Don’t use alcohol swabs to clean fingers.
Keeping your fingertips and all of your equipment clean and sterile is essential and should never be compromised. However, alcohol can dry out your skin and increase its sensitivity to pain. Alcohol is also an astringent, which results in tightening of the skin and makes it harder for the lancet to pierce the skin. Skip cleaning your hands with rubbing alcohol, alcohol swabs, or alcohol-based hand sanitizers before a finger prick. Instead, use soap and water to thoroughly clean your hands and fingers before testing. This method is just as effective at removing germs from your skin. Still, if you do use alcohol swabs sometimes, there are some that are made to help numb the area and may be helpful to keep in your rotation.
6. Choose a finer gauge needle.
The higher gauge of the lancet, the thinner the needle, and the less pain it will cause on your finger. But, this can vary. Sometimes a 30 gauge needle is less painful than a 33 gauge needle, even though the 30 is the bigger of the two. The reason is that smaller needles, like a 33, might need to go deeper into some fingers.
Both 30 and 33-gauge needles fit into the DigiVibe lancing device, so you can try both to see which is the most effective for you.
7. Never reuse your needles.
It can be tempting to reuse the same lancets for multiple finger pricks to reduce your blood sugar testing supply costs. However, reusing the same lancets can lead to dullness of the needle, and a dull needle will cause much more pain than a fresh, sharp one. Lancets have a special coating to help make them less painful for you. The coating is only intended for single use and is removed by alcohol wipes. Plus, reusing needles can increase your risk for infection.
8. Warm up your hands first.
Warm hands and fingers will promote blood flow and reduce pain in the area. It will also bring blood to the surface and make it faster and easier to test. To warm up your hands, use warm water when washing your hands or rub your hands together to create friction before testing. After washing your hands, try air drying instead of reaching for a towel. Shaking the water from your hands can further help warm them up. In a pinch, you can also try placing your hands in your pockets or sitting on your hands for several minutes.
9. Don’t squeeze your fingertips.
As tempting as it can be to squeeze blood from your fingers to get your reading faster, this can lead to bruising, swelling, and increased pain from your testing sites. Instead, try letting your hands hang at your sides below waist level for a few seconds after finger pricking. This will allow gravity to help enhance blood flow to your fingertips and make it easier to collect your blood sample.
Figuring out what works best for you to minimize finger prick pain can take some trial and error. Your “hand map” can be helpful as you try new testing sites and determine where to prick and avoid. Trying some of these other tips can help you find the least painful way to check your blood sugar.
If you try these tips and are still having trouble, connect with a diabetes educator in your area. They can review the testing process with you and teach you how to prick your finger without it hurting.
So, does a finger prick blood test hurt? Maybe, but we believe it doesn’t have to. While the finger prick is necessary, that doesn’t mean a high level of pain and anxiety should be.
Try some of the tips above to help minimize pain and give DigiVibe a try. DigiVibe was designed to help eliminate pain using innovative vibration technology. Grab yours today.