We asked a certified diabetes educator this pointed question. She shares what is recommended, and what actually happens in real life.
We spoke with Karen Cullen, CDE, nurse clinician, and research coordinator in pediatric endocrinology at UMass Memorial Health Care about lancets. Here is what she had to say:
What can happen if you don’t change a lancet?
There is no evidence that you can get an infection from reusing your own lancet. Although there could be microscopic bits of blood left behind, these generally don’t cause any problems. The sharpness of the lancet will certainly diminish, which can cause it to hurt more; think about cutting a steak with a spoon. So really, the worst thing that might happen is that you’ll have to increase the depth so that the dull tip can get through. Ouch.
Want more type 1 diabetes-related news stories, and the chance to help type 1 diabetes research? Take a moment to join Glu now by clicking here: https://myglu.org/sign_up.
Which part of our fingers should we be using?
All ten fingers are fair game. If you don’t like the hard calluses that develop, then rotate! The poke should actually be done on the sides of the fingers above the knuckle, not the tip and not the pad.
Realistically how often should we be changing it? In the real life world of people living with type 1 diabetes, and all the tasks involved with caring for diabetes, changing a lancet is pretty low on the priority list. It is recommended that the lancet be changed each and every time it is used. The fact of the matter is, it will still get you a drop of blood if it’s been used over and over – it just might hurt a bit more.
When working with patients, what strategies or recommendations do you have when talking about this topic?
I tell people to try for once per day, although I know many that change it once per week, and others still that change it when the clocks change twice per year. If a person is actually checking blood sugars at least 4 times per day, administering insulin when recommended, and doing all the other tasks required to stay healthy and keep blood sugars in control as much as possible, then change it when you think of it. I wouldn’t worry about the lancet. It’s all the other things that really need the attention.
We also asked Glu members how often they have changed their lancets. You can see the results below.