One of the most important aspects of managing diabetes is monitoring your blood sugar level. Luckily, you can use self-checking devices to keep track of glucose levels, which typically involve pricking your finger to draw a drop of blood for sampling.

That’s where lancets come in handy, as they’re designed to make this process as painless and smooth as possible. Single-use lancets usually come with a dedicated device to use them, but what if using the device isn’t an option for you?

In today’s article, we’ll show you how to use lancets without a device as well as essential safety tips to reduce pain and improve the accuracy of the results. 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Traditional Lancets Without a Device

If you must use a traditional lancet without a device, here’s how to do it safely. Keep in mind that you should only attempt this as a last resort, as there are other device-free alternatives that we’ll discuss in the following sections:

1. Prepare the Measuring Device

Start by taking out a glucose test strip and sticking it to your blood glucose meter per your device’s instructions. The device should give you a beep or display a message on the screen when it’s ready.

2. Disinfect the Pricking Site

Wash your hand with soap and dry it with sterile tissues to minimize the risk of bloodborne infections. 

You should also use alcohol swabs for extra disinfection. Some patients avoid using alcohol pads because they cause blood drawing to sting more, but they’re essential when you’re skipping devices as an extra precaution.

3. Expose the Needle and Prick the Fingertip Manually

Twist the cap of the lancet in a circular motion to remove it and expose the tiny needle. You would typically put the lancet needle in the device and load it to prick the skin.

Instead, you’ll need to hold the lancet from the plastic part. The best way to hold the lancet for accuracy is using the following technique:

  • Thumb and middle finger on the sides of the plastic body of the lancet (allows you to hold the lancet firmly while jabbing)
  • The index on the back end of the lancet (supports the lancet and improves your accuracy while pricking)

Keep the needle tip around 2 mm away from your fingertip and prepare yourself for jabbing. Make sure that you aim slightly off-center to minimize pain.

Once you’re ready, move your hand quickly to prick the skin and remove the needle right away.

Allow the blood to draw out and apply gentle squeezes if necessary, then approach the test strip tip for capillary blood sampling to get a result.

What Are the Best Device-Free Safety Lancets on the Market?

Now that you know more about safety lancets, you might be interested in trying them out. Luckily, various options on the market offer good quality while coming at a decent price. Here are some of our top recommendations:

Are There Device-Free Lancets?

Although most lancets recommend using a compatible device for pricking, some disposable lancets with single-use blades are designed so that you can use them freely, eliminating the need for a device. 

These are known as “safety lancets”, which are single-use lancets designed so that they’re set off while you apply gentle pressure on their caps, allowing for a safe and swift blood collection.

Advantages of Safety Lancets

If you don’t want to carry around a pricking device, using safety lancets is your best bet, as they offer the best of both worlds. Here’s a quick look at some of their advantages.

Needles Are Never Exposed

One of the main issues associated with using traditional lancets without devices is exposed needles, which can cause many problems, including a higher risk of infection and needle bending.

Unexposed needles are also incredibly convenient for anyone who suffers from compulsive fear of needles. This way, you won’t have to go through an anxiety episode every time you need to jab your finger with a pricking needle.

Easier to Use

Using traditional lancets without a device can be quite a hassle, as you’ll need to be both accurate and quick to minimize pain and bruising while pricking a finger. 

However, this requires some experience, and can still be painful and stressful, especially for diabetic children. 

This makes checking your glucose level a hassle and discourages patients from doing them regularly, which can lead to many problems in the long run.

On the other hand, device-free lancets take the complication out of the process, which improves commitment to checkups, allowing you to stay informed about your blood glucose levels.

Easy Disposal

Most safety lancets are designed with one-time-use mechanisms that prevent cross-contamination. This allows you to dispose of them safely.

Different Sizes for Accurate Depth Control

Not all lancets are created equal, as they can vary in terms of length and thickness. Choosing the right size and needle depths of the lancet depends on personal preferences and aspects like skin thickness and the amount of blood needed. 

Luckily, many safety lancets come in different sizes to let you choose the one that suits you best.

The Drawbacks of Using Lancets Without a Device

Using the lancet without the device, even if possible, may compromise some of these advantages and cause some issues. Here’s a quick look at some of them.

More Painful Pricks

One of the main reasons why diabetic patients, whether type I or type II, use lancet devices is pain control. 

Jabbing your fingertip manually with a needle generates a lot of pain, which can be a true problem for those who are afraid of needles.

On the other hand, lancet devices are designed so that the prick is as quick and painless as possible.

Inaccurate/Inconsistent Prick Depth

Besides being quite painful, it’s quite difficult to control the depth while pricking lancets manually. 

This may end up drawing either too much or too little blood, which leads to inaccurate and inconsistent test results.

Higher Risk of Lancet Bending or Breaking

Since traditional lancets are designed to be used with a device, the chances of bending and breaking needles with manual sticking can be quite high.

A needlestick injury is considered a safety hazard and usually requires the interference of a healthcare provider.

Exposed Needle Can Lead to Infections

Another problem associated with using traditional lancets is that you need to expose the needle before using them.

Exposing the needle subjects it to airborne pathogens, which can lead to serious health problems and complications, such as bloodborne infections.

How To Use Safety Lancets

The exact method for using safety lancets varies from one brand to another. However, the general mechanism of safety lancets is fairly similar among different types, so here’s a brief overview of how to use them:

  1. Prepare your glucose meter by inserting a testing strip into the device and making sure it’s activated and ready for testing.
  2. Make sure that your hands are clean by washing them with soap and drying them properly. You may also use an alcohol swab to quickly disinfect the region where you’re going to prick your finger.
  3. Take one safety lancet out of the container, twist its white cap in a complete circle to remove it, and prepare the pricking needle. Unlike traditional lancets, the needle will not be exposed.
  4. Hold the lancet and apply gentle pressure against your fingertip while also pressing the back of the lancet to activate it.
  5. Gently squeeze your fingertip to release more blood if necessary, then apply the blood drop to the device and wait a few seconds to get a measurement.
  6. Dispose of the safety lancet and pack away your device and test strips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Okay to Use Lancets Without Device?

Ideally, using a lancet without a device isn’t generally recommended, especially if they come with a device or are intended to be used with a specific device.

One way to check that is by looking at your sharps container for usage instructions. In most cases, the instructions will clearly state the compatible device to use with the lancets.

Conclusion

This marks the end of today’s guide that shows you how to use lancets without a device. As you can see, using a pricking device instead of manual jabbing comes with various advantages, so you should only use this method if you have no other options left.

If you’re looking for a convenient method to use lancets without a device, we highly recommend going for a safety lancet like Pip or McKesson Lancets, as they make the process a lot easier while eliminating the drawbacks associated with manual pricking.

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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