If you use a blood glucose monitor (BGM) to manage your diabetes, pricking your finger is part of your everyday routine. Finding the right lancet can make it as easy and comfortable as possible. With several different types of lancets on the market, it’s important to explore your options and select the best lancet for you.
What Is a Lancet?
A lancet is a small sterile needle used to obtain the blood sample you need to check your blood sugar. Lancets can be used on their own or in conjunction with a lancing device, and they come in many sizes.
The length of a lancet is measured in millimeters (mm). However, the length doesn’t necessarily reflect how deeply the lancet will puncture your skin, as lancing devices typically allow you to set the degree of puncture.
Lancet size makes a difference when it comes to monitoring blood glucose levels. If you need only a small blood sample, you may choose a smaller lancet, whereas you may need a larger lancet if a larger blood sample is required. However, lancet size is not the only factor to consider; shape and sharpness can also affect your experience.
Different Types of Lancets
There are several different types of lancets and lancing devices on the market, and each offers unique features.
A traditional lancet has a sterile needle attached to a plastic part that connects to a lancing device. The plastic piece holds the needle in place for stable handling. Traditional lancets differ in style and functionality. Examples include the following:
- Standard: Exposed needle with a handle for a safe grip
- Pull-top: Needle is exposed by pulling a protector off the top
- Twist-off: Needle is exposed by twisting the top off
Traditional lancets should be disposed of in a sharps container after each use. Reusing the same lancet can dull the needle, make obtaining a blood sample more painful, and increase the risk of infection.
A safety lancet has a sterile, retractable needle that deploys only when activated by the user. Before activation, the needle is covered, which prevents accidents. These lancets were designed to comply with federal occupational safety regulations applicable to clinics but may be purchased by people living with diabetes for at-home blood glucose management.
Safety lancets are encased in their own lancing devices, which come in an array of designs. For example, a safety lancet may be spring-loaded and activated with the push of a button. It can also be part of a passive device activated only by pressure or contact with the sample area. Many passive devices come with a fixed penetration depth and have a self-destructing activation mechanism that makes it impossible to reuse the lancet.
Replaceable lancets are sterile, disposable lancets used with a reusable lancing device.
Specialty lancing devices may require unique lancets.
Different Types of Lancing Devices
Which type of lancet you use will largely depend on the lancing device. Most lancing devices fall into one of the following categories:
- Blade-only devices: The user holds the lancing device in one hand and lances a finger on the opposite hand. Since the introduction of more comfortable and safer options, these devices are rarely used.
- Single-use disposable devices: These devices are used with safety lancets and are discarded after use.
- Reusable lancing devices: This is the kind of lancing device usually included with BGM devices. While the device is used repeatedly, the lancet is replaceable and should be discarded after each use. Reusable lancing devices may have a variety of features to improve the user experience, including depth adjustment.
- Specialty lancing devices: Specialty lancing devices, such as vacuum devices, electronically controlled devices, and laser devices, have unique features that aim to improve the blood collection process. In the case of laser devices, no needle is used.
Today, there are more devices available than ever before, giving you new ways to optimize comfort and convenience. One of the most innovative is the POGO Automatic® Monitor.
POGO Automatic Makes Lancing Simple
With its integrated lancing, the POGO Automatic Monitor offers a safe, fast, and convenient way to check your blood sugar levels. Rather than relying on separate test strips and lancets, it uses ten-test cartridges that contain test strips and lancets. The POGO Automatic automatically lances and collects blood at the push of a button and returns results within seconds.
The innovative design of the POGO Automatic helps prevent accidental pricks, much like a safety lancet. It requires a blood sample size of only .25µL. That’s about the size of a pinhead and smaller than the standard .3–.6mµL samples required by traditional BGM systems.
The lancet inside the POGO Automatic Cartridge makes a very small hole to obtain a correct sample size. Each lancet is coated with a tiny amount (<0.24 IU) of heparin to prevent the collected blood from clotting inside the test cell before your results appear. Be sure to notify your healthcare provider if you’re allergic to heparin.
To use the POGO Automatic, you simply press the test port with your finger. Many users find this easier and more comfortable than traditional testing. If your test requires a larger blood sample, you simply use the “Add More Blood” feature of POGO Automatic without needing to be re-lanced.
When you’re done with a cartridge, you can throw it away. Because the lancets are inside the cartridge, there are no exposed sharps.
Finding the Best Lancet for You
Understanding the different types of lancets can help you find the option that best suits your needs and preferences. Lancet size, penetration depth, and lancing technique can all play a role in determining which lancet works best for you. The lancing experience, including pain, is also affected by the trajectory of the lancet, speed of puncture, noise emitted, and whether or not you can see the needle—all of which are controlled by the lancing device.
In general, smaller needles and shallower penetration are said to be less painful. If you are experiencing pain during lancing, consider switching to a smaller lancet size. If you are having trouble obtaining a sufficient blood sample, a device like POGO Automatic allows you to easily add more blood without having to be re-lanced, simplifying your testing routine.
It’s important to have the right tools to manage your diabetes in the best way possible. With cutting-edge devices like POGO Automatic, you have more options than ever before.
Robert Miller is a customer experience specialist committed to helping people navigate the world of diabetes. He focuses on finding innovative tools and strategies that make diabetes management easier to support long-term wellness.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.