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Poking your finger 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 9 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. The devices are small tubes that launch a small needle known as a lancet into the skin to make a puncture that produces a drop of blood.

Lancets come out of the package with a cover over the needle tip, which you need to remove 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 to use. Oddly, higher gauge numbers indicate finer and narrower needles, while lower gauge numbers indicate heavier, thicker needles. So a 33 G lancet is thinner and more desirable than a 30 G lancet.

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 needle penetrates the skin. While the depth settings don’t strictly correspond with the actual depth in millimeters, they’re set up so that the lower-numbered depth setting is shallower, while higher numbers mean a deeper jab.

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

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 sticks less likely.

We selected our best lancing devices based on the following:

  • Depth setting: The idea of regularly using a needle on yourself isn’t fun, we know, so you should have some control over the needle you use. We made sure our picks provided a good range of depths.
  • User feedback: You don’t want to invest in a product without a seal of approval. We selected lancing devices with a strong crop of positive reviews and some consistent trends on what to look out for.
  • Price: Many healthcare devices are pricey. We chose options that land along a range of price points, in order to suit most budgets.

A note on price

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 other discounts.

Because the price paid can be so variable, we’ve included the list price found on the manufacturer’s site and rounded up to the next full dollar. When a manufacturer didn’t list a price, we used the approximate retail price found on Amazon.

Best lancing device for quick results

Accu-Chek FastClix

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 (30 G) needle with a bevel-cut edge

User feedback: rated highly on Amazon, gaining 4.7 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

Price: lancing device: $13; lancets (102 count, 17 drums of 6): $15

Where to buy: your local pharmacy, Amazon, or directly from Accu-Chek

The lancing device looks like a thick, retractable pen with a 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 the need to touch or see the needles. And it means that you can test throughout the day without having to insert a new lancet each time.

This is a proprietary design that makes the FastClix incompatible with lancets from other manufacturers.

Best basic lancing device

Accu-Chek SoftClix

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: 28 G

User feedback: rated highly on Amazon, with 4.6 out of 5 stars; comments say the device worked as expected

Price: lancing device: $12; lancets (200 count): $25

Where to buy: your local pharmacy, Amazon, or directly from Accu-Chek

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

Most comfortable lancing device

OneTouch Delica Plus

Features:

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

Needles: 30 G and 33 G

User feedback: overall rating on Amazon is very high, with 4.6 out of 5 stars

Price: lancing device: $17; lancets (33 G, 100 count): $12

Where to buy: your local pharmacy and Amazon

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’re available in both fine and extra-fine gauges.

Easiest lancing device to use

FreeStyle Lancing Device II

Features:

  • adjustable depth setting
  • Comfort Zone technology to reduce pain
  • lancets with a standard square-bottom design

Needles: 28 G

User feedback: has an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon; several users complain that their lancing device broke easily, and one user says the small size made the lancing device difficult to use

Price: lancing device: $13; lancets (200 count): $17

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

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 a standard square-bottom design, so they’re compatible with a variety of devices from other manufacturers.

Best lancing device with colorful lancets

Microlet Next

Features:

  • five depth settings
  • lancets come in a rainbow of colors
  • silicone-coated needles for smooth gliding
  • lancet ejector tab
  • locking end cap for safety

Needles: 28 G

User feedback: rated highly overall on Amazon, with 4.5 out of 5 stars; users comment that the lancing device worked as expected, and some remark that the rainbow-colored lancets provided a nice distraction from an otherwise tedious task

Price: lancing device: around $15; lancets (100 count): around $10

Where to buy: your local pharmacy or Amazon

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 a rainbow of colors.

Best lancing device for reducing pain

Genteel Plus

Features:

  • unique vacuum function for pain-free use
  • Food and Drug Administration (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: 32 G at the base and tapered down to 36 G at the tip

User feedback: rated 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon; users comment 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 points out that there is a learning curve, saying you have to hold the activation button down and wait for the vacuum to release

Price: lancing device starter kit (six contact tips, two nozzles, a travel organizer pouch, and a few lancets): around $89; Butterfly Touch lancets (300 count): around $24; replacement contact tips (6 count): around $15; replacement nozzle (2 count): around $15.

Where to buy: Amazon or directly from Genteel

The Genteel Plus lancing device is unique in look and design. In fact, it looks like something out of a 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 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.

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.

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

Best lancing device with easy depth adjustment

CareTouch Lancing Device

Features:

  • 10 depth settings
  • precise guided technology to minimize pain
  • lancet needles are available in 30 G and 33 G
  • lancets are rainbow colored
  • trigger and ejector button
  • fits most standard square-based lancets

Needles: available in 30 G and 33 G

User feedback: overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon; one user mentions having to remove the tip to reset the spring in the lancing device.

Price: lancing device (includes 100-count 30 G lancets): around $13; lancets (30 G, 300 count): $9; lancets (33 G, 100 count): $6.

Where to buy: Amazon or directly from CareTouch

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.

Best portable lancing device

Pip Lancets

Features:

  • fixed combinations of needle gauge and depth
  • small, self-contained lancing system
  • requires minimal dexterity to use

Needles: 30 G and 28 G

User feedback: highly rated on Amazon with 4.7 out of 5 stars; one user mentions 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 mentions 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 (includes carry case, 50 lancets — 30 of the primary size selected + 10 each of the other two sizes): $10; lancets (100 count): $18

Where to buy: Amazon or directly from Pip

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, 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 30 G needle that goes to a 1.0 millimeter (mm) depth. The purple Pip is a 30 G needle at 1.6 mm depth. And the orange Pip is a 28 G 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.

Best spring-loaded lancing device

Owen Mumford Autolet

Features:

  • nine depth settings
  • Comfort Zone technology to counter pain
  • lancet release
  • uses standard square-bottom lancets

Needles: 30 G

User feedback: overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon; some users complain about the cap popping off the lancing device or breaking

Price: lancing device: around $11; lancets (30 G, 100 count): $6

Where to buy: Amazon

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.

Best budget lancing device

AUVON Lancing Device & Twist Lancets

Features:

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

Needles: 30 G

User feedback: overall 4.6 out of 5 rating on Amazon

Price: lancing device starter kit (includes 100 count, 30G lancets): around $10; lancets (30G, 100 count): around $8

Where to buy: Amazon or directly from AUVON

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

In addition to its 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. This means less pain in the short term and less nerve damage in the long term.

It’s 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.

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.

In the short term, dull lancet needles can be more painful to use. Over time, they can cause more damage to the skin.

All the manufacturers featured say their devices can reduce pain. These claims are based on some combination of the following product characteristics:

  • minimizing how much the lancing device vibrates 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

Which lancing device is best?

The answer is highly personal. Each of us has our own preferences and sensitivities. The final decision may come down to some combination of trial and error and your budget.

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

How do you use a lancing device?

Generally, you’ll place the tip that covers the lancet on the side of your fingertip and then press the button to discharge the lancet. Since lancing devices vary, make sure to check the manufacturer’s directions before use.

Are lancing devices reusable?

While lancets are intended to be single use, lancing devices are designed to be reused.

Do lancing devices hurt?

Lancing devices are designed to be as painless as possible, but piercing the skin can still be mildly painful. Features that minimize vibration during the launch of the lancet, thinner needles, coatings on the lancet designed to reduce friction, and adjusting the depth of the jab may make the experience more comfortable.

There are many options on the market for lancing devices and lancets. If you use these devices regularly, it’s worth exploring your options. Keep in mind that many lancing devices can work with different lancet brands, and a little trial and error can make the experience as a whole more comfortable and cost efficient.