The only pain that diabetes regularly causes comes when we draw a drop of blood from one of our fingers. Some people don’t even check their blood sugar because they have needle phobia.
Injecting insulin or one of the incretin mimetics (like Byetta, Victoza, or Bydureon) rarely hurts, as I know from my own experience with Byetta. Diabetes can of course lead to painful complications, but by tightly managing our sugar control we are almost certain to avoid them.
Lancets and the lancing devices that hold lancets can cause pain. But they don’t have to.
I’m still amazed that we put so much emphasis on the meters that check our blood sugar while seldom giving a second thought to our lancets. This is where the rubber meets the road. Over the years I’ve seen lots of comparison of our meters, but not a single one comparing lancets.
The First Lancet Analysis
Chris Jacobs has done all of us a great service when he analyzed the regular square shaft lancets in his laboratory. He is a biomedical engineer and CEO of Genteel LLC in Midland, Texas. His company makes a lancing device, which I reviewed last June at “Gentle Testing for Diabetes.” Because the Genteel lancing device will use any square shaft lancet, Dr. Jacobs reviewed the brands available here, testing thousands of lancets.
His review was in the interest of his company, of course, because his Genteel lancing device offers an optimal user experience only when we use it with the best lancets. Likewise, his review is in our interest.
You can find the entire review, which I posted on my website on July 13, 2015, at “Reducing Pain with Better Lancets.” I understand that Dr. Jacobs intends to get a professional journal to publish a version of his review, but in the meanwhile he’s making it available to us.
He has continued his lancet analysis, updating his ratings of recommended, acceptable, unacceptable, and incompatible lancets, which he publishes at “Lancet Compatibility for Use With Genteel.”
The Top Lancets
The four recommended lancets there, on a scale of 1 to 10, are:
9.4 Johnson & Johnson LifeScan OneTouch UltraSoft (White)
8.5 CVS/pharmacy Thin Lancet (26g) (For Alternate Sites)
8.4 Walgreens Superthin (28g)
8.1 Bayer Microlet (all gray) (28g)
This list has two changes from the list of recommended lancets in the review on my web site. The bigger of these changes is that he no longer lists the top-rated lancet.
“The LifeScan OneTouch FinePoint is not shown,” Dr. Jacobs told me, “even though it is our favorite. For one thing, it outlasted most others by a nice margin. Unfortunately J & J intends to pull it off the market soon, and we don’t want people chasing after the unobtainable.”
Actually, LifeScan stopped selling its OneTouch FinePoint lancet in the U.S. on March 31, 2015, Dave Detmers, LifeScan’s director of communications, told me. “Our emphasis is on the OneTouch Delica Lancing System, which uses a proprietary lancet.”
Some FinePoint lancets are still available online. I bought a long-term supply for my own needs from Amazon.com.
The second change from the original list of recommended lancets is because of new testing. The CVS/pharmacy Thin Lancet is the addition.
What About the tiniBoy Lancet?
One important choice that doesn’t appear either in the complete review or the updated list is the tiniBoy Ultra-Thin Lancet, which is the thinnest and shortest of any lancet. I first reviewed these great lancets five years ago at “Tiny tiniBoy Lancet Blood Glucose Tester” and have generally used them with my Genteel lancing device.
“The tiniBoy is an unusual lancet in that it somewhat deactivates our contact tips,” Dr. Jacobs told me. “The purpose of the contact tips is to prevent the lancet from going too deeply into the skin, but some people want the lancet to go deeper than the tinyBoy will allow. Rather than complicate the listing, we didn’t bring up all that. However, our tests showed the quality of the tinyBoy to be exceptionally good and consistent. David, you could recommend it for general use with confidence. It also works with Genteel if the operator knows how to handle it, but we could get a deluge of calls if we recommended it, not because it is bad, just because it requires a little more finesse to use it with Genteel.”
Read the Whole Study
The entire analysis at “Gentle Testing for Diabetes” is well worth your time to read. I learned from it how easy it is to bend the needle when I remove the safety cap and the trouble that this causes.
While I change lancets after every use, many people don’t. If you are one of them, you may also want to read how doing that can start “to rip skin rather than poke it.”
See more of my articles about how to manage diabetes:
David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.