Diabetes Forecast

2011 Lancing Devices


Whether it's your first or 4,000th time pricking your skin for a blood glucose test, you may feel some pain getting that blood drop. For some people, testing is one of the most difficult parts of diabetes management. But today's meters require smaller blood samples, new test strips efficiently wick up the drop of blood, and lancing devices—spring-loaded, pen-shaped tools that prick your skin with a needle—ease the pain.

Most people use the lancing device that comes with their blood glucose meter. But there are other options that may be attractive for certain groups, such as children or those with limited dexterity. For instance, the Accu-Chek Multiclix device holds a "drum" of six preloaded lancets. Rather than manually changing your lancet with each test (which is recommended for keeping needles sharp and sterile), you can click through the device to swap in a new lancet every time.

Many lancing devices, including the Multiclix and the OneTouch UltraSoft Adjustable Blood Sampler, offer alternate depth settings. That makes testing less painful for kids and others with delicate skin, and helps those with thicker skin or calluses get larger blood samples if needed. Depth settings are useful for alternate site testing, and user manuals usually suggest what depths to try with various sites on the body. (Click here for more on the latest in lancing devices and lancets.)

The more you use the same lancet, the duller the needle gets, and the more painful the test can be. Consult your owner's manual on how to dispose of used lancets. Many come in clear plastic cartridges for loading the lancing device; you can use the cartridge and its plastic cap for disposal in the regular trash. Otherwise, you should dispose of lancets in a sharps container. You can buy these containers online and in some pharmacies, or make your own: Sturdy plastic containers—like a plastic laundry detergent jug or an empty gallon container of milk—work just fine. When the container is full, seal it and discard appropriately (consult your local waste management department to see if you can toss a sealed container in the regular trash).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association urge people with diabetes and health care providers to follow safe practices that prevent the spread of bloodborne disease between lancet users. Finger stick devices and insulin pens should not be used by more than one person. Even a device that uses a new lancet for each person can transmit infection (mainly a concern for people in hospitals or long-term-care facilities). According to the CDC, a blood glucose meter should be cleaned and disinfected before being used by someone else, and care providers should change gloves between testing different individuals.



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