Lancets – the good, the bad, the gross

From hanging out in the DOC for a few years now, I think I can safely say that a LOT of us have a very lackadaisical attitude towards lancets. Sure, we use them on a daily basis, and have to have them to support our blood sugar testing, but as for brand names, which ones perform better than others, etc, I don’t see a lot of discussion around it, and no one seems to care a lot about lancets. (Except for the FDA, apparently. What a load of who-ha.)  There isn’t any dedicated research (that I know of) or earth-shattering discoveries being made around “how to make a better lancet.”  I am not talking about non-invasive glucose monitors here, I’m just talking about lancets. Lancets are pretty simple tools we use to break through our skin, draw blood, and use that blood to test our blood sugar.  (True, lancet-devices themselves may differ, but that little piece of skin-poking metal is pretty universal.)

As for our various uses and hygienic standards surrounding how we use lancets….now, there’s another story.  I remember in the early days of having diabetes, I was religious about washing my hands and/or alcohol swabbing my finger before ever jabbing it with a lancet/lancet-device. After each use of a lancet, I would take it out of the lancet-device, cap it with the twist-top from a new lancet, put the new lancet into my device so it was ready for next time, then discard the old one into my sharps container. (I’m sorry, I’m laughing at my-naive-fresh-faced-21-year-old-diabetic-self as I write this. Let me compose myself.)

Fast forward 19 years. I can’t remember the last time I refilled an Rx for lancets or bought a new package of them. The ones I have in my diabetes supplies zones have long-overdue expiration dates on them (I think), but really – what’s there to “expire?” Maybe their sterility could be compromised after so many years? I even have a box of rainbow-colored lancets. Those make me more cheerfully stab my fingers. (Not really, but let’s just pretend.)

Deutsch: Einweglanzette (Nahaufnahme)

A Lancet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But if we’re talking about things being sterile – that went out the window years ago. I do still wash my hands – most of the time – but definitely if I’ve eaten recently because I don’t want any rogue food particles to mess up the sugar reading. I am sure I use the same lancet hundreds (yikes, maybe thousands??) of times before I remember to change it out. I have a CGM, but I still finger-stick test at least 5-6 times per day, and more if I’m on the first or last few days of a CGM sensor. In one month, I’d say I could use the same lancet at least 150 times, so it hits 1,000 times in 6 months, easy.

I’m trying to get better at switching out the lancet more often than once in a blue moon. With my recent stupid finger infection, I can see where I may be more prone to infection here in my older age, and even though I am a chronic hand-washer, germs still abound. I have a 2 year old. We are involved in potty training. Dirt and germs are EVERYWHERE. I promise – and I’m announcing this to the world so now I’ll be held accountable – I will try to do better at changing out my lancet, for the sake of not getting any more infections that could have been prevented.

The event that actually spurred (ha ha) me into writing this post was how I find myself using lancets for several things OTHER than their intended use. In these cases, I do always use a sterile one fresh from the box. And if I ever test someone else’s blood sugar, I always use a clean one for them, and replace it after it’s used with a new one for me. I don’t joke about that stuff.

I have used lancets for a multitude of problems….they are perfect for clicking the microscopically tiny reset buttons on various electronics, popping zits, helping dislodge splinters, digging out sock lint from my toenails, and picking out food trapped between my teeth. (Too much information? It gets better.) The other week, I had this weird pimple-like boil on my belly, right at my waistband line. I thought it looked like a zit and I’d popped it a week or so before, but it came back and was looking kind of angry now, so I performed minor surgery on it – using alcohol swabs and 2 lancets. A fair amount of blood was expelled, along with some pimple-juice-like-substance. It went from being swollen and red to flat and healing – that sucker cleared up in no time! (I think I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead. That didn’t gross me out one bit.)

Anyway….what are your thoughts on lancets? Any fun info or amusing uses that you have found for them?

8 thoughts on “Lancets – the good, the bad, the gross

  1. Love your honesty, R. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who performs self surgery, LOL. Although I’ve never used a lancet to do so.

    I never change mine. Like you, I change it when I check someone else’s BG but if that doesn’t happen, that puppy stays in the clicker for way too long.

    You’d think I’d change it every time I changed my contacts (every 2 weeks) or something, but, yeah.

    Want to make a pact to change it on the first of every month?

  2. for popping zits! OMG!

    when B was diagnosed, my brain did briefly go to a miraculous dermatology appointment during which the dr. syringed something into or out of a cystic acne lump on my forehead. i did think, “maybe i can use the syringes for facials.” but never have tried.

    a lancet on a zit! i’m dying!

  3. I never changed it when I was first diagnosed because right away I saw the hassle. I tried a few different reminders. Like daily or weekly or every other Wednesday sort of thing but none of it worked. Finally the only thing that works is this: When I go to grab a fresh bottle of strips I get a new lancet at the same time. This usually works. Sometimes the lancet sits in my meter case for a few days but most of the time I change it out with the new bottle.
    It’s the best I can do.
    Changing pen needles? that’s where I suck even more.
    Your multiple uses are HILARIOUS! I’ve used them to open plastic packages because it’s like always having a knife on you! And yeah, I cap it off and continue to use it for testing. I’ve popped zits or picked out splinters or cleaned my fingernails. Though the ends of the Freestyle Lite strips work great for that too (and cleaning teeth)

    We are gross people but at least we’re resourceful!

  4. Raising my hand because I’m way guilty of not changing often enough. I usually only change if it hurts AND doesn’t produce any blood (after a couple of tries). :-)

  5. I changed mine the other day because my lancing device fell on the floor and the top came off exposing the lancet to the floor as well, prior to that it had been months I’m pretty sure. I always felt guilty about the fact that I never changed it until I found the DOC and realized I wasn’t alone. I do think it’s more important to wash hands/using the alcohol pads more than a clean lancet. It’s so funny too that the FDA cares about this but doesn’t care about test strip accuracy

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