If you have diabetes, then you know all too well the importance of testing your blood sugar on a regular basis.
Keeping blood sugar levels within your target range is an important goal for your short and long-term health. A lancing device is used to obtain a drop of blood. That drop of blood is then used for the glucose monitor to measure your blood sugar levels. Sounds simple, right?
Initially, it can be overwhelming to sift through information about the various devices and supplies needed to manage your diabetes. Additionally, there is the fear of repeated finger pricks causing your skin to become painful and sore.
If you’re new to lancing devices, the following guide will provide definitions, helpful instructions, and important information, including how to use one.
What are lancing devices?
Lancing devices are designed to launch a small needle, or lancet to puncture the skin enough to produce a drop of blood. These devices will have an adjustable setting to determine the depth of the skin jab.
The depth of the skin jab is measured by the number of millimeters the needle penetrates the skin. The lower-numbered depth setting is more shallow, while higher numbers mean a deeper jab. While a lower-numbered depth setting will be more comfortable for most people, a shallow jab may not work well for people with rough or thick skin. The ideal lancet depth will provide enough blood to saturate a glucose strip without causing long-term skin damage or a great deal of pain.
There are two types of lancing devices: cam-driven and spring-loaded. A cam-driven lancing device will allow you to insert multiple lancets. Therefore, every time you use the lancing device to prick your finger, you simply turn the cam to use a fresh lancet.
One advantage of using a cam-driven design is that they don’t require that you store your device and lancets separately when on the go. A disadvantage of this type of design is that cam-driven devices are only used to prick your finger and can’t be used on other parts of your body.
A spring-loaded lancing device uses an internal spring to deploy a lancet. One disadvantage of this design is that it only allows you to load one lancet at a time. However, an advantage to using a spring-loaded design is that it can be used in areas other than your finger, including the palm of your hand, thigh, or forearm.
What are lancets?
Lancets are small needles in a molded piece of plastic used to puncture the skin to obtain a blood sample. Also known as a “finger pricker,” a lancet needle will come in various widths that are measured in gauges (G). Lower gauge numbers specify heavier, thicker needles, while higher gauge numbers represent finer and narrower lancets.
Using a thinner, finer gauge lancet needle is generally more comfortable. However, people with thick, calloused skin may need a thicker needle to obtain the best blood sample. A finger lancet will come with a cover over the needle tip, which must be removed before use. Once inserted into the lancing device, a safety cover will keep the lancet needle sterile to help prevent accidental jabs.
Ideally, it’s best to use a new sterile lancet needle every time you check your blood sugar. However, changing your lancet repeatedly can be irritating, particularly if you’re checking your blood sugar often throughout the day.
While some people reuse lancets, it’s important to note that doing so may increase the risk of infection and can also dull the lancet needle over time. Using dull needles can increase pain and eventually lead to skin damage.
How to use a lancing device
It is best to read the directions for your specific lancing device before use. However, the following are general guidelines on how to use a lancet:
Before touching any supplies, make sure your hands are washed. This will cut down on infection risk.
- Take your lancet and load it into the lancing device. If you’re using a cam-driven lancet, you’ll likely need to turn the barrel to load a new lancet.
- If you are just beginning, you’ll want to start at the lowest depth setting on your lancing device. If this setting allows for enough blood to saturate a glucose strip, then you are good to go. If not, you may need to slowly increase the depth of the lancing device until you produce an ideal blood drop.
- Once you’ve selected your ideal depth, you’ll then apply the tip of the lancing device to the surface of your skin, usually on the finger. Try using the sides of your fingertips instead of the center to decrease discomfort.
- You’ll then press the button to trigger the lancet to prick your skin.
- Next, apply your blood sample to the test strip in your blood glucose meter.
After a few tries, it will become second nature to use your personal lancing device.
Choosing a lancing device
Finding the best lancing device for you may take some trial and error. Many people wonder if using a lancing device hurts. To cut down on discomfort, you’ll want to find the best lancets and lancing devices to meet your specific needs. One thing to consider when choosing your diabetes supplies is whether or not your lancing device is “universal,” meaning it can accommodate a wide assortment of lancets.
A universal lancing device can accept lancets from different manufacturers making things more convenient, comfortable, and potentially less expensive. Using the lancing device and lancets that come with your glucose meter may work well for you. However, it’s helpful to know that you have choices that may work better.
For example, our DigiVibe Complete Kit is an affordable and compact kit that comes with a lancing device, lancets, as well as our DigiVibe device and stand. Our device completely eliminates the pain of finger pricks. To learn more about how easy it is to use DigiVibe, and how it can help you or a loved one, check out these patient and doctor reviews.