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How Often Should I Change My Lancet? (A “Grost.)

source: Type 1 Diabetes Memes

(Taking a cue from Glu today because when this post rolled through my feed, I was like, “Hmmm.  A lot now, but before?  NEVER!!”)

Every single time there’s a new meme about changing the lancet in a finger pricker device (nope, that is not the technical term), I laugh because they are all true in that “whoops” sort of way.

Upstairs in the bathroom closet, I have boxes and boxes of lancets for all kinds of different poker devices (again, not the technical term).  All different sizes and shapes and gauges … years and years worth of lancets for half a dozen different devices.  (Except The Guillotine.  That thing was retired decades ago, thank goodness.)  And the reason I have so many lancets stashed?  I went years without regularly changing my lancet.

Gross.  I know.  And I’ve seen that photo of what a needle looks like before use, after one use, and after six uses and yes, it grosses me right the hell out.  But for a long, long time, I changed my lancet once a month.  Maybe once a week, depending.  And I only changed it if it didn’t procure a good blood droplet or if it went into my fingertip and got “stuck.”  (You know what I mean … when you press the button and the lancet deploys, only it lodges itself into your fingertip and has a weird suction feeling when it pulls out?  Horribly horrible.)  Lancet swapping-out was a shameful non-priority for a long time.

Two things made me start changing my lancet regularly:

ONE.  A friend told me about how she’d heard a story about a person with diabetes whose fingertips were downright gangrenous because they didn’t change their lancet.  “Ew, really?”  “Really.”  And even though I stand firmly on the “hope vs. fear” motivation concept, this story about mostly-dead fingertips made me want to throw up.  Then I started searching the Internet for information on needle reuse and the photos made me want to apologize profusely to all my digits.  I had no idea how nasty and serrated the needle edges became after just one use.  I thought about all the times I had injected syringes through my jeans in high school.  I thought about how a box of lancets could last me two years.  I thought about how gross I was.  Gross, gross, groooooosssssss.

TWO.  And then I explored lancing device options.  I had heard really good things about the Accu-Chek Multiclix (mostly from Sara, because she frigging loves hers), and the device was snazzy because it comes with a drum of lancets that automagically swap out, but the size of the thing was too big for the case I kept my meter in.  Switching to the One Touch Delica was the winner, for me, because the lancet gauge is so thin that I’m forced to change it regularly because otherwise, I don’t bleed.  (It becomes that dance of pull back the device, press the button, nothing happens, repeat 10x, change lancet and curse.)  Like it or not, I have to change my lancet regularly or the device becomes useless.

Now I change my lancet once a day.  Every day.  And every time I kill a box of lancets, I feel accomplished because in the last four years, I’ve gone through at least two dozen boxes.

In the 20+ years prior?  Probably the same number of lancet boxes.



38 Comments Post a comment
  1. Guilty. Need to change out my lancets WAY more than I do. OK, going to do that right now…..(I have 8,000 boxes of unopened lancets in my closet. True Story.)

    07/23/14; 11:05 am
  2. Holy Moly I need to change my lancet. Thanks for the reminder…. it’s been awhile.

    07/23/14; 11:15 am
  3. I’d like to say that reading this would result in a change in my habits. I’d like to say that, but I know myself.

    I rotate the lancet in my fastclix drums at every endo appointment just so it gets done every 3 months.

    07/23/14; 11:15 am
  4. Meghan #

    I guess my “change at daylight savings start and end” practice needs to change…

    07/23/14; 11:25 am
  5. dpcfmander #

    Sigh… Thank you for the kick-in-the-butt reminder. Just this year I stumbled upon the wonderful FastClick / MultiClick device, which I now love, and which makes it harder for me to procrastinate changing it. I’m down to about once a month now!… Well, I considered that progress. I guess it’s time to up that to once a week and make my way to once a day. Thanks again for the reminder!

    07/23/14; 11:28 am
  6. rich white #

    Guilty… My strips come in 50. I generally change my lancet when I change my strip container…

    07/23/14; 11:36 am
  7. Karin #

    The ONLY time I “re-use” and lancet is when I didn’t get enough blood from the first stick that time. I change my lancet after EVERY blood test, between 4 and 10 times a day. I never re-use syringes. It’s just something I’ve always done. I know I’m the minority in the DOC, but really I do it every. single. time. I would gladly take those hundreds of boxes of lancets off your hands 🙂

    07/23/14; 11:38 am
  8. rich white #

    One other thing… I am currently in a examination room waiting on my endo. Perfect timing. Lol I hear him coming I should hide this 🙂

    07/23/14; 11:39 am
  9. GM #

    I change once a day, but wipe the lancet after each use with an alcohol swab, which I put back into the little foil packet and continue to reuse until it dries up (or gets really bloody, whichever come first.)

    My sister recently told me she thought it was weird that I don’t use a new alcohol swab every time I test — at that rate, I would be using piles of alcohol swabs every week. And the swab is saturated in alcohol, so it’s clean, right?

    07/23/14; 11:54 am
  10. I am the most disgusting about lancets. In the past 3 months the only time I’ve changed it was probably when I checked my friend’s blood sugar. But right after I read this… I changed it. Thanks for freaking me out. I prob needed it

    07/23/14; 12:29 pm
  11. Deb #

    once a day, every day works for me.

    07/23/14; 12:29 pm
  12. If I can’t remember the last time I changed, is that bad? I’m a Multiclix user (and lover), so it should be easier for me. I like Rich White’s idea above. At any rate, I need to change more often.

    07/23/14; 1:02 pm
  13. Jennifer #

    I know I’m in the minority, but I change my lancet every time I test. I find it makes finger pricks less painful. I’ve been type 1 since 1977, so changing lancets was probably much more important with the first generation of lancing devices. There are only a couple of circumstances under which I will not change out my lancet: 1) if I feel I’m low and need to get a reading quickly; or 2) if I didn’t draw blood with the first click.

    07/23/14; 1:18 pm
    • Karin #

      Thank God for you! It’s so nice not to be alone on this 🙂

      07/24/14; 11:55 am
  14. Shay #

    Thanks for the reminder! I don’t want to think what mine would look like under a microscope

    07/23/14; 1:25 pm
  15. Christine #

    I have found that since I started changing up my lancet each day, my fingers are not as sore. I have been able to change the tension on the serter from 7 to 3.

    07/23/14; 2:02 pm
  16. The Delica lancets do tend to develop a “hook” over time. They go in, get caught, and don’t want to come out. Or they don’t go in to begin with. I’ve noticed I change my lancet more often with those. (I also lost my lancer last weekend; forced me to pull out a new lancet. Stabbing manually with a Delica is much tougher than with the other types!)

    07/23/14; 2:13 pm
  17. Charlotte Beasley #

    Ok.turning the dial on my multiclix, I have more than one I use and changing out
    the Delica too. I know I should change more often.

    07/23/14; 2:17 pm
  18. I change the lancet whenever I accidentally use Briggs’s pricker, to protect him from my germs. I feel like such a brilliant, wonderful mother as I advance the drum from #6 to #5.

    FastClix 4EVAH.

    07/23/14; 2:52 pm
  19. I DO frigging love mine! 😉

    I tried to use the Delica but even on the highest setting I could not get a drop of blood out. Considering I use the Multi/Fastclix on the lowest setting I know I was doing something wrong. I will just stick (diabetes pun!) with my first love!

    07/23/14; 3:34 pm
  20. Right there with you. My pharmacist doesn’t understand why I always decline a new box of lancets. During prengancy when I was ultra on-top-of my diabetes care, I was proud of myself for changing every sunday night. I’ve been using a multiclix for about 8 months now and still don’t change with every test, but do change once per day. Progress!

    07/23/14; 3:44 pm
  21. Martha #

    I change once a day to avoid those “milking the finger” type testing experiences. I do it before bed every night so that I don’t forget.

    07/23/14; 3:55 pm
  22. Thanks for the reminder. I am very erratic about when I change the lancet. I have plenty. There really is no excuse why I don’t.

    07/23/14; 4:21 pm
  23. Martha #

    For me it’s one of those low-hanging-fruit things I can do in dealing with a disease that is so frequently bewildering (she says several hours into a “blood sugar excursion”).

    07/23/14; 4:46 pm
  24. Kathy W. #

    first, I laughed out loud at “A day may come…”

    then, ugh, I changed my lancet. The last time was (insert truly mortifying number) months ago.

    07/23/14; 7:58 pm
  25. Betsyjfm #

    Impressive! I’ll think about it….

    07/23/14; 9:04 pm
  26. Michelle S. #

    Ok, this made me change my lancet right away. have been a little better about it lately, but I want to start changing it daily. I l will try Martha’s approach of every night before bed.

    07/23/14; 9:30 pm
  27. K. #

    I’d be MUCH more inclined to change my lancet more often if disposing of those damned things were easier. They’re nearly all the same. Where in the world are you supposed to get rid of the devils, particularly when you’re not at home and don’t have a sharps container handy? The “caps” don’t even neatly fit back on (at least the way they do for syringes), so you can’t even safely transport them back home to dispose of safely at home? (As I do with syringes.) That’s the main reason I don’t change my lancet before every test. I wish these companies knew that. Can you tell them? 🙂

    Another irritant: all the different sized log books out there that don’t fit into any of the carrying cases. Shouldn’t the diabetes companies just make these things standard-sized, so that they fit nicely into a case?

    07/23/14; 11:41 pm
  28. Ali #

    I have the multiclix and still don’t rotate or change the drum!

    Done now after your post – can you repost this again tomorrow? 🙂

    07/24/14; 2:59 am
  29. Sherry #

    My daughter was diagnosed when she was 2 years old (she is now 6), so my husband and I had to do the testing. We were trained to change it after every test, so we have always done it that way. I did not realize there were so many people that reuse lancets.

    07/24/14; 11:54 pm
  30. I can’t help but cringe every time the subject comes up. This debate is probably older than diabetes 🙂

    I’ll link a post to Alexis, because she posted my images a while back:

    Now obviously you should not trust my pictures over others seen on the internet. You should probably trust none of those. In my very own experience, however, needle deformation does not happen (see above link). Not in the way that is often posted anyway.

    However, I did find organic gunk (that’s the technical term) on both pen needles and lancets. And that is both disgusting and can cause all sorts of infections if you’re unlucky. I’ll stick to my “needle change on christmas and easter – neccessary or not” technique.

    07/25/14; 2:15 pm
  31. Alexa #

    I may or may not have just changed my lancet for my regular and back-up pokers right after reading this…

    07/27/14; 1:12 am
  32. Franklin Manning #

    Never heard of this. Lancets are so cheap I never reuse any of them ever.

    03/25/15; 1:55 am
  33. I have to admit, I laughed at the mental picture of you injecting through your jeans.

    Anyway, I use the Bayer Microlet 2 lancing device. I have somewhat thick, calloused skin and I need a device to really puncture. Nothing more frustrating than your meter turning off while you poke yourself a hundred times trying to get blood.
    This device has the deepest puncture setting of any lancing device I have ever used. Sometimes, if I press down to hard, it will puncture a capillary and I have to put on a band aid to stop the bleeding!

    Thank you for your article.

    05/15/15; 12:03 am

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Tuesday Topic: The Great Lancet Debate | Diabetes Daily Grind
  2. Change Your Lancet. - Six Until Me - diabetes blog
  3. Sweet Little Lancet. | Six Until Me - diabetes blog
  4. Looking Back: How Often Should I Change My Lancet? (A “Grost.) | Six Until Me - diabetes blog

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