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Poking your finger and collecting a drop of blood to check glucose levels is an integral part of daily diabetes management. Even people using continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) need to check and calibrate to a fresh drop of blood from time to time.

But checking your blood this way is often painful and unpleasant. In the quest to help you reduce this discomfort, we looked at 10 sets of lancing devices and lancets available from nine different manufacturers.

Lancing devices and lancets often go unexamined. People tend to use whatever comes with their glucometer. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can choose the combination that works best for you.

Generally, lancing devices for diabetes all look very much the same. They are small tubes that launch a lancet (small needle) into the skin to make a puncture that produces a blood drop. Nearly all lancing devices — with two notable exceptions in our roundup — tend to use the same type of spring-loaded mechanism to push the lancet needle into the skin.

Most lancing devices have an adjustable setting to determine the depth of the jab. The depth is measured by the number of millimeters the jab penetrates the skin. While the depth settings don’t strictly correspond with the actual depth in millimeters, they all are set up so that the lower-numbered depth setting is more shallow, while higher numbers mean a deeper jab.

Fun fact: One of the earliest lancing devices was nicknamed The Guillotine. It was a large, spring-loaded device with the lancet and its needle fully visible as it moved down its track toward the fingertip. Thankfully, today’s lancing devices conceal the lancet needle, making the process less scary, and accidental jabs less likely.

A lancet is a small plastic device that securely holds a needle. They come out of the package with a cover over the needle tip, which you need to take off before use. Once you insert the lancet into the lancing device, there’s a safety cover that keeps the needle sterile and helps avoid accidental jabs.

Lancet needles come in a variety of widths, which are measured in gauges (G). The finer and narrower the needle, the less painful it is in use. Oddly, higher gauge numbers indicate finer and narrower needles, while lower gauge numbers indicate heavier, thicker needles. So a 33G lancet is thinner and more desirable than a 30G lancet.

It is best to use a new, sterile lancet with each jab. In real life, this doesn’t always happen. It can be burdensome to have to change your lancet over and over, and most people find that reusing one for some time works fine for them. But be aware that reusing lancets does raise the risk of infection because, once used, the lancet needle is no longer sterile. And each time a lancet is used, the needle gets more dull, increasing the jaggedness of each puncture it makes. In the short term, dull lancet needles can be more painful to use, while over time they cause more damage to the skin.

Fun fact: Not all lancets look the same. While the shape and function of lancets don’t vary much, some manufacturers produce their lancets in a rainbow of colors. This adds a little bit of fun to an otherwise un-fun task. Some parents of children with diabetes have commented in their product reviews that having the colors to focus on makes getting jabbed less distressing for their child.

All of the manufacturers promise less or no pain when using their device. These claims are based on some combination of the following product characteristics:

  • Minimizing how much the lancing device vibrates and/or the lancet moves side-to-side when launched, so that the lancet travels on a straight path
  • Using a thinner (finer gauge) lancet needle
  • Coating the lancet needle with a material that reduces friction with the skin
  • Being able to adjust the depth of the jab

Deciding which lancing device and lancets are best for you is highly personal. For each of us, the sensations that come with having to jab ourselves varies.

You can choose to use any lancing device and lancet that you find comfortable. In fact, if you choose one of the many lancets that are made in the standard square-base design, you might not even have to use a lancing device and lancets from the same manufacturer — making for a truly custom setup.

The descriptions below cover 10 popular lancing devices currently available in the United States. Finding the best one for you may still take a bit of trial and error, but this list should help you narrow the number of options to look at.

A note on costs listed: The actual price you will pay for a lancing device and lancets will depend on your insurance, whether you use a manufacturer’s discount coupon, and whether you can find some other discount. Because the price paid can be so variable, unless otherwise noted, we’ve included the list price found on the manufacturer’s site rounded up to the next full dollar. When a manufacturer didn’t list a price, we used the retail price found on Amazon.

Form factor: The lancing device itself looks like a thick, retractable pen with the button at one end and the cap at the other. This is the most common design for lancing devices. What is uncommon is how the lancing needles are packaged. They come in a self-contained drum of six. This design removes any need to touch or see the needles directly. And it means that you can test throughout the day without having to insert a new lancet each time. But this is a proprietary design that makes the FastClix incompatible with lancets from other manufacturers.

Features:

  • 11 depth settings
  • Precision guided lancet launching to minimize side-to-side movement
  • Lancet needle with a bevel cut edge to smooth out puncture
  • Lancet needles preloaded in a drum of six

Needles: Fine gauge (30G) needle with a bevel cut edge

User feedback: Rated highly on Amazon, gaining 4.6 out of 5 stars. One user did point out that they didn’t like having to manually advance to the next needle after each use.

Cost: Lancing device, $12; Lancets – 102 count (17 drums of 6) for $19

Where to buy: Your local pharmacy, on Amazon, or directly from Accu-Chek.

Form factor: This lancing device looks exactly like the Accu-Chek FastClix and functions in the same way with the same features. Where it differs is that it uses single-use lancets instead of the multiuse drum.

Features:

  • 11 depth settings
  • Precision guided lancet launching to minimize side-to-side movement
  • Lancet needle with a bevel cut edge to smooth out puncture
  • Lancet uses standard square-base design and interchangeable with other lancing devices

Needles: 28G

User feedback: Rated highly on Amazon, with 4.6 out of 5 stars. The comments were generally that the device worked as expected.

Cost: Lancing device, $11; Lancets – 100 count, $18

Where to buy: Your local pharmacy, on Amazon, or directly from Accu-Chek.

Form factor: The OneTouch Delica Plus lancing device is a smaller and shorter tube than many other devices. The launch mechanism is a button on the side of the device and the depth level is set using a wheel at the back end of the tube. It only uses the compatible lancets made by OneTouch, but they are available in both fine and extra-fine gauge.

Features:

  • 13 depth settings
  • Updated from earlier design to reduce lancet vibration
  • Lancet needles are coated in silicone so that they glide more smoothly
  • Uses OneTouch Delica or OneTouch Delica Plus lancets only

Needles: 30G and 33G

User feedback: Overall rating on Amazon is very high, with 4.7 out of 5 stars

Cost: Lancing device, $19; Lancets (33G) – 100 count, $15

Where to buy: Your local pharmacy, Amazon.

Form factor: This device clocks in at just under 3 inches long and is shaped somewhat like a cigar. It also seems to be one of the simpler designed devices. It uses a sliding tab on its side to cock the lancet needle and a button below to launch it. The lancets themselves are single use and are the standard square-bottom design, so they are compatible with a variety of devices from other manufacturers.

Features:

  • Adjustable depth setting
  • Patented Comfort Zone Technology to reduce pain
  • Lancets with the standard square-bottom design

Needles: 28G

User feedback: It received an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Several users complained that their lancing device broke easily. One user found that the small size made the lancing device difficult to use.

Cost: Lancing device, $14; Lancets – 100 count, $16

Where to buy: Your local pharmacy, Amazon, or directly from Abbott Diabetes Care.

Form factor: The Microlet Next is a tube-shaped lancing device with the launch button on the side and a sliding tab for ejecting used lancets. Pulling the back end of the tube cocks the lancet for launch. But it is the lancets that truly bring some delight — they come in rainbow colors.

Features:

  • 5 depth settings
  • Lancets come in a rainbow of colors
  • Silicone-coated needles for smooth gliding
  • Lancet ejector tab
  • Locking end cap for safety

Needles: 28G

User feedback: Rated highly overall on Amazon, with 4.6 out of 5 stars. Users commented that the lancing device worked as expected, and some remarked the rainbow-colored lancets provided a nice distraction from an otherwise tedious task.

Cost: Lancing device, $19; Lancets – 100 count, $10

Where to buy: Your local pharmacy, or the Ascensia Diabetes store on Amazon.

Form factor: The Genteel Plus lancing device is unique in look and design. In fact, it looks like something out of a medical bay in a science fiction movie.

Instead of plunging the lancet needle into the skin, when the activation button is pushed a vacuum is created in the tip, drawing the skin up toward the lancet. This creates some separation between the layer of skin where the blood capillaries are and the nerve endings. When the lancet is released, it punctures the skin without reaching the nerves, avoiding causing pain.

Being FDA-cleared for use anywhere on the body, the Genteel Plus makes it possible to avoid finger pricks sometimes (or altogether). You can choose to draw blood from your abdomen, thigh, the base of your thumb — really anywhere on your body.

Genteel’s Butterfly Touch lancets also have a unique tapered design. They measure 32G at the base and taper to 36G at the tip. This design minimizes the lancet’s vibration as it enters the skin and reduces or eliminates pain.

Features:

  • Unique vacuum function for pain-free use
  • FDA cleared to be used anywhere on the body
  • Depth level set by using one of six color-coded contact tips
  • Tapered lancet needles minimize lancet vibration while entering the skin
  • Uses standard square-base lancets, compatible with some other manufacturer’s lancing devices
  • Lancing device is available in five bright colors

Needles: 32G at the base and tapered down to 36G at the tip

User feedback: Overall rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and 4.4 for ease of use specifically. Users commented that they liked being able to give their fingertips a break, and parents can check their child’s blood in the middle of the night without waking them. One user pointed out that there is a learning curve, saying that you have to hold the activation button down and wait for the vacuum to release or you get blood spray.

Cost: Lancing device starter kit, $69. The starter kit comes with six contact tips, two nozzles, a travel organizer pouch, and a few lancets. Butterfly touch lancets – 100 count, $15; Replacement contact tips – 6 count, $15; Replacement nozzle – 2 count, $15.

Where to buy: Amazon, or directly from Genteel.

Form factor: The CareTouch lancing device uses the standard tube design with the trigger button on the side. The depth level is set by twisting the tip. The lancets are gamma sterilized, latex-free, and come in rainbow colors.

Features:

  • 10 depth settings
  • Precise guided technology to minimize pain
  • Lancet needles are available in 30G and 33G
  • Lancets are rainbow colored
  • Trigger and ejector button
  • Fits most standard square-based lancets

Needles: Available in 30G and 33G

User feedback: Overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. One user mentioned having to remove the tip to reset the spring in the lancing device.

Cost: Lancet device, $9 – includes 100-count 30G lancets; Lancets 30G – 300 count, $14; Lancets 33G – 100 count, $6.

Where to buy: Amazon, or directly from CareTouch.

Form factor: Using a totally unique design, the Pip looks more like a small tube of lip gloss than a lancing device. Completely self-contained, each Pip lancing system is less than 2 inches long, making it super easy to carry around. To use it, you just twist the top off, press the tip against the finger, and the needle is triggered. Once the skin has been jabbed, pull the Pip away from the skin, replace the top, and dispose of it properly. This system works well for people with limited dexterity.

Being self-contained also means that the puncture depth and needle size are fixed. The manufacturer provides three color-coded options for needle size and depth. The blue Pip is a 30G needle that goes to a 1.0 millimeter (mm) depth. The purple Pip is a 30G needle at 1.6 mm depth. And the orange Pip is a 28G needle at 1.8 mm depth.

50 Pips come in the starter kit: 30 are in the size and color the user chooses, plus 10 each of the other two sizes.

Features:

  • Fixed combinations of needle gauge and depth
  • Small, self-contained lancing system
  • Requires minimal dexterity to use

Needles: 30G and 28G

User feedback: Highly rated on Amazon with 4.7 out of 5 stars overall. One user mentioned that it did take some pressure to get the needle to release, but once it did they didn’t feel any pain at all. Another mentioned liking that the Pip is self-contained so they felt comfortable carrying the used lancets until they could get to a sharps disposal container.

Cost: Starter kit, $13. Includes carry case, 50 lancets (30 of the primary size selected + 10 each of the other two sizes); Lancets 100 count, $17

Where to buy: Amazon, or directly from Pip.

Form factor: A traditionally designed tube-shaped lancing device, the Autolet has a spring-loaded mechanism that’s primed when the lancet is inserted. No need to pull a lever or push a tab.

It’s most unique characteristic is something called Comfort Zone Technology. The Autolet has eight raised pressure points on the tip. The user rubs their fingertip on these points before triggering the lancet. This reportedly stimulates comforting signals to the brain, countering any pain that might otherwise be felt.

Features:

  • 9 depth settings
  • Comfort Zone Technology to counter pain
  • Lancet release
  • Uses standard square-bottom lancets

Needles: 30G

User feedback: Overall rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Some users complained about the cap popping off the lancing device or breaking.

Cost: Lancing device, $12; Lancets 30G – 100 count, $6

Where to buy: Amazon.

Form factor: Another traditionally designed tube-shaped lancing device, the AUVON is one of the less expensive options.

In addition to its precision design to minimize vibrations and oscillation while lancing, the AUVON also has a rough surface near its tip for the user to rub their finger on. Doing this draws blood toward the surface, making it easier to get a sample without having to go deeper and eliminating the need to squeeze the finger. In the short run this means less pain, and in the long run less nerve damage.

Features:

  • 10 depth levels
  • Ejects lancet with a push of a button
  • Less vibration and oscillation means less pain

Needles: 30G

User feedback: Overall 4.6 out of 5 rating on Amazon; value for money rated at 4.5.

Cost: Lancet device starter kit, $9. Includes 100 count, 30G lancets; Lancets 30G – 100 count, $8

Where to buy: Amazon, or directly from AUVON.

The answer will be highly personal. Each of us has our own preferences and sensitivities. The final decision may come down to some combination of trial and error plus what we can afford.

That being said, in a sea of similar designs, the maverick devices offered by Genteel and Pip deserve a second look.