Product Guide: Lancing Devices
Pick a better way to prick
Having trouble with your finger sticks? News flash: You don’t have to get stuck pricking your finger with the lancing device that came with your meter. There’s a plethora of lancing devices for sale that will suit your personal needs and allow for greater comfort when you test.
What’s a lancing device? A lancing device holds a lancet, which is used to puncture the skin to obtain a small blood sample for testing your glucose. Lancing devices are reusable, while a lancet is typically single use, says Camilla Levister, NP, CDE, a diabetes educator at Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York. But while most meter kits come with a lancing device, the one in your kit it may not be the best for you.
Reasons for choosing a lancing device are based on your personal preference and ease of use, says Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a diabetes lifestyle expert for digital health company Livongo Health—whether it’s finding one that you can easily grip or using one with a puncture depth that causes less pain. “It is trial and error, with the ultimate goal of using a lancing device you are comfortable with,” she says.
No matter what device you settle on, remember: “When testing the fingers, prick the side of the finger rather than the center for greater comfort,” says Levister. Despite that simple rule, you may have other issues that require a device with specific features.
The Problem: Testing is too painful, and I bruise too much.
The Solution: To ease pain and bruising, try different depth penetration settings on your lancing device, says Smithson. Most lancing devices allow you to adjust the depth to which the lancet enters the skin. A shallow prick may hurt less than a deep one, but you do want to achieve a large enough blood drop. Some devices offer up to 11 depth settings. Need more relief? Consider needle gauge. The higher the gauge, the thinner the needle, which can be less painful. Also, remember to prick different fingers and different places on each finger to avoid overusing a site.
The Devices: The Accu-Chek Softclix ($32.49) and the FastClix ($9.99) come with 11 depth settings. The Softclix uses 28-gauge lancets, while FastClix lancets are 30 gauge. The OneTouch Delica has nine depth settings and works with a 30- or 33-gauge lancet.
The Problem: I have arthritis and dexterity issues.
The Solution: Look for a one-handed lancing device. “It allows for cocking the spring back and pushing the button of the lancing device with one hand,” says Levister. If you have trouble changing lancets, a device that holds a lancet drum may help (more on that below).
The Devices: For one-handed lancing, check out the OneTouch Delica ($19.99) and the Bayer Microlet 2 ($19.99). Both are compact and allow one-handed operation. The Bayer Microlet 2 also comes with an easy-to-grip design. These are good options if you’re looking for a small device. They can easily fit into your pocket; the OneTouch Delica is only about three inches long.
The Problem: I’m afraid of needles.
The Solution: If the thought of needles makes you queasy, your best bet is a device that holds a drum of preloaded lancets. “The drum does not have any visible needle and is placed in the lancing device for multiple uses, so changing the drum occurs every six times versus changing the needle each time you check your blood glucose,” says Smithson. This can also help you avoid accidentally pricking yourself when changing the needle.
The Devices: The Accu-Chek FastClix uses drums of six preloaded needles. Both the OneTouch Delica and the Accu-Chek Softclix have a cover to shield the sharps from view.
The Problem: My fingers need a break!
The Solution: Several lancing devices allow you to test on areas of the body aside from the fingertips, including the palm of the hand, forearm, upper arm, and thigh. This can be useful if it’s too painful to prick your fingers or if sore fingers need a chance to heal. But remember: Alternate site testing is not appropriate for everyone and should be avoided in certain instances, such as if your blood glucose levels are changing rapidly or you have difficulty detecting lows. According to Levister, fingertip testing gives the most accurate portrayal of your blood glucose at that moment, while alternate sites generally lag by about 20 to 30 minutes (the palm of the hand lags by a bit less). Because of this, she recommends refraining from alternate site testing when you feel low, are about to drive, have just taken insulin, or are exercising or have just finished exercising—activities that require an up-to-date blood glucose level to avoid going too low.
The Devices: The Genteel Lancing Device ($129 with a kit of accessories) can be used for alternate site testing. It’s a bit bulkier than other devices, but its lancet is designed to enter and exit the skin quickly. The Genteel then uses a vacuum to suck out a drop of blood. It comes with two nozzles, one for fingertip testing and the other for alternate sites. The Bayer Microlet 2 and the Accu-Chek FastClix can also be used on alternate sites, when you replace the device’s regu