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Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

How Can I Heal Bruised Fingers?

I've had type 1 diabetes for over 50 years. For the past 30 years I've used a blood glucose meter, sticking my finger and testing four times a day. My fingers are starting to turn purple, even though my current meter requires very little blood. Is there anything I can do to heal this? Alan Cutler, San Antonio

Christy L. Parkin, MSN, RN, CDE, responds:

What to Know:

Before testing, wash your hands in warm water and let your arm dangle at your side for a minute or so. This allows the blood to flow down into the fingertips. There is no need to use alcohol if you wash your hands. Alcohol dries and toughens skin over time, making it hard to obtain a drop of blood.

Possible Solutions:

To help with bruised fingertips, it may be time to update your lancing device. Newer models are extremely gentle and minimize the trauma of lancing the fingertips several times a day. If you are not using a lancing device already, this will help a lot (some people use the lancet without the device; this definitely hurts more and can cause more bruising). Use the lowest possible setting on the device to avoid a deep stick while giving an adequate amount of blood.

The least painful place to prick is on the sides of the fingertips. Because it is important to rotate sites, be sure to use both sides of the finger. Avoid testing on the pad of the finger; there are more nerve endings there that cause more pain. Pinky fingers can be a great place to prick for the best blood flow.

Some blood glucose meters let you test alternate sites, such as the upper arm, thigh, calf, and palm. These sites contain fewer nerves than the fingertips and may give your fingers some relief. Because there is a lag effect, alternate-site testing should be used only when blood glucose is stable, such as before a meal or when fasting. Always check from your fingertip when blood glucose is changing quickly, such as following a meal, after exercise, or whenever you think your blood glucose might be low.

Although many people reuse their lancets, the lancets will become dull and cause more pain with extended use. Change lancets with each test (or at least daily) to ensure that they are sharp and clean.

Takeaway:

Your fingertips may be discolored because of the frequent testing you do, but be sure to discuss this with your doctor as there may be other causes.

 
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