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Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

How Can I Get a Blood Drop for My Test Strip?

If my fingers have dried up for testing my blood, where else can I draw blood for my test strips?

Janis McWilliams, RN, MSN, CDE, BC-ADM, responds

It’s sometimes difficult to get an adequate drop of blood for glucose checks, but you don’t have to limit your sites to your fingers.

Tips to Try First

First, consider whether a few pre-test tricks could solve your problem: Hold the hand that you plan to prick below heart level and, if needed, shake it. Or try washing your hands with warm—not hot—water to improve circulation. Alcohol wipes aren’t necessary and can dry out your skin.

Still striking out? Rotate testing so you use all of your fingers. And prick the sides rather than the center of the fingertips. This not only decreases pain but also gives you more sites to use. If you have developed calluses, avoid those sites for a while and use a good moisturizing skin cream when not pricking the finger (lotions can affect blood glucose readings).

Also consider your lancing device. Most have settings that adjust how deeply the needle penetrates. Try different settings to see which works best for you. (But take caution: Using a higher setting than you need may cause tissue injury and calluses.) Pay attention to the gauge of the lancet—a higher number will create a smaller hole. For the least painful and most successful prick, use a new, sharp lancet.

Finally, consider using a meter that requires as little blood as possible.

Backup Solution

Many meters and their lancing devices are designed to allow blood sampling from alternate sites such as the fleshy palm of your hand, your forearm, and your upper arm. Do not use an alternate site when you think that your blood glucose is low or at times when blood glucose changes can be rapid, such as after eating—your reading from an alternate site may not be accurate at such times. Good times to use an alternative site are first thing in the morning and before meals.

Plan accordingly for alternative site testing: The lancing device you use should have a clear cap that’ll allow you to put pressure on the site until you see an adequate drop of blood.

Takeaways

Getting accurate glucose readings is important, and that includes getting a large enough drop of blood. Always wash the area to be pricked with soap and water and allow the skin to dry.

 
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