6 tips for healing bruised fingers


We know that with each blood glucose (BG) check, you are making a proactive decision to proactively manage your diabetes and we applaud you for that! In doing so, we’ve heard feedback from our customers that this can also become painful and frustrating over time so we wanted to see what we could do to help. 

Frequent blood glucose (BG) testing is critical to good diabetes management, but sometimes it can leave your fingers bruised and sore. Good fingerstick techniques can help provide more accurate readings, reducing the number of times you have to redo that BG check. Here are 6 tips to help minimize sore black-and-blue fingers.


1. Change your lancet often

Although many people may reuse their lancets, they are likely to become dull over time, causing more pain with prolonged use. Be sure to change lancets with each fingerstick to ensure they’re sharp and clean. So make sure to carry extra lancets with you, and remember that you should never share yours or use another person’s lancing device. Use the lowest setting on the device that will obtain an adequate amount of blood. The more shallow the poke, the less it will hurt. It may take some experimentation to see which setting works best for you. You might also try experimenting to find the right lancet or lancing device for you, or change it out more frequently.


2. Wash your hands before testing

Using alcohol, such as hand sanitizer, to clean your hands before testing can dry and toughen the skin over time, making it more difficult and painful to obtain a drop of blood. Additionally, if the alcohol does not dry completely, it can mix with your blood and cause an inaccurate reading. If possible, instead of using alcohol, wash your hands with warm soapy water. Washing with warm soapy water will help bring blood to the surface of your fingers, reduce the risk of the lancet pushing any dirt under your skin, and will remove any food residue from your last meal or snack. Even if a small amount of food or liquid is left on your fingers, it can dissolve into the blood drop and artificially raise your BG reading. (Have any of you ever checked your BG after treating low with an orange juice and gotten an inaccurate reading? This could be why!)


3. Choose a less painful site

Choose the sides or tip (not the pad or near the nail bed) of your finger to take a BG. The sides of your fingers have fewer nerves and are less thick than the pad of your fingertips, so it hurts less when they are pricked. The sides of your fingers also have more blood vessels closer to the surface, so you don’t have to prick as deeply to get the amount of blood required to take a BG reading.


4. Prepare your site

To bring more blood flow to your fingertips, after washing your hands with warm soapy water, rub the spot on the finger you are going to prick until it becomes warm while letting your arm dangle at the side of your body for about a minute. This helps the blood collect in your fingertips. If you’re having trouble getting enough blood, don’t squeeze or milk your fingertip. This can cause more pain, and may cause an incorrect BG reading. Instead, hang your hand below your waist for 10 seconds. This technique can be very helpful for people who have checked their BG for a long time.


5. Rotate sites

Similar to rotating your infusion and sensor sites, it’s also important to rotate your lancing sites to allow your fingers to heal. Rotate the site around all the available sides of all your fingers. Since it can be hard to remember exactly where you last pricked your finger, come up with a system where you assign a finger to each day of the week. You can use one side of the finger in the morning to afternoon hours, and switch to the other side of your finger from the evening to night hours. Avoid lancing any sore spots for a few days, using other fingers until the sore spot heals.


6. Stop the blood flow

After pricking your finger, apply pressure to the site using a cotton ball or tissue for about 30 seconds while holding your hand above your heart until the blood clots. If you start doing other things without stopping the bleeding, dirt could enter into the small hole and potentially cause an infection, and you could get blood in places you don’t want them! If the bleeding continues, use a band aid to help stop the bleeding and protect the puncture from infection. 

Your fingertips may be bruised from all of the frequent BG testing you do, but be sure to talk with your healthcare team to eliminate any other possible causes. What tips do you have for healing bruised and sore fingers? Let us know in the comments below!


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Submitted by Sharon Harris (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

My 4 yr old grandson Tony has had Type 1 since he was 2 1/2. At the age of 4, he does a great job of testing himself with use of an alcohol wipe. He blows on his finger to dry it before he uses the lancet. His preferred finger is always his thumb, only because it's easier for him and stays firmer in the air to poke. Knock on wood we have never had any problem with his pricks. He then takes a small square of cut up paper towel to stop the bleeding.
If we are in doubt as to how many pokes a finger has with various caretakers throughout the day, the only way to know is to squeeze the finger at or near the tip and previous pokes usually show up as dots.
My question is how can milking or squeezing the finger during a test change the BG reading? We often have to do this when other options are not working.
I have to say with so many pokes every day, his fingers look so good and heal from the pricks really quickly. He's a Mini Med pump wearer and generally 2 weeks out of a month he wears the CGM. The GCM often has been within 5 of the actual BG reading. I look forward to Medtronic and CGM one day being so accurate that we have have less finger pricks for Type 1!

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Sharon Harris (not verified)

Thank you for sharing your grandson’s experience with us, Sharon! I’m happy to hear he’s doing well on insulin pump therapy. How milking or squeezing the finger affects a BG reading sounds like a great question for your grandson’s healthcare team.

Submitted by Mark (not verified) on

In reply to by Sharon Harris (not verified)

SSharon there is a small flaw inn your grandson's method. He should not blow on his finger to dry the alcohol. By blowing on his f ingrr he is potentially putting germs right back onto his finger, thus defeating the purpose of the alcohol.

Submitted by Donna (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Anyone experiencing issues with their Paradigm Insulin pump, specifically the ring around the area where you install your reservoir? While threading in your reservoir, there is a stop built in with notches located 1/2 around each side of the top - creating a ring. Mine cracks and eventually 1/2 of the ring separates and comes off. I'm curious if this is happening to anyone other than me? My pump just had this issue yesterday and this is not the first time. I've been told it's a tightening issue, but how can you tighten your reservoir too much when there is a 'stop' built right in? Any advice or comments would be appreciated. Thank you!

Submitted by LOOP Blog Editorial on

In reply to by Donna (not verified)

Hi Donna, I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing issues with your reservoir cracking. I will have a member of my team connect with you to try and help.

Submitted by Rochelle (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Hi Liza
Do you have any recommendations for moisturizers or creams to heal the fingers. Of course we have to wash it off before test a blood sugar. Thank you.

Submitted by Lisa Thornton (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Yes it does become annoying after checking so many times. A person only has so many fingers.

Submitted by Jeffrey Cormier (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I play guitar as a hobby. I generally don’t experience pain with fresh lancets even though I only test primarily with the ring and mid-finger on my right hand only.
Using Left hand finger testing along with the strings of the guitar seems like a bad idea.

Submitted by Maribel Ortiz (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

i have pricked my finger for so many years the tips are hard....and i don't really feel it anymore so in all honesty i don't even know what to say...should i continue to use creams and lotions to soften them? I've done all these steps since the day I have started testing and in the end the results were hard tips and numbness eventually

Submitted by Tiffany (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

I am so use to pricking my fingers for checking my glucose. What's most important is rotation and using the correct needle size and cleaning is very important.

Submitted by Peach O'Neill (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

Hi Maribel,
I just became a surgical diabetic. The team at the facility I received care were top notch , in all departments. When the diabetic education team taught me how to test glucose, she showed me to prick on the upper sides of fingers, never the top- exactly due to nerve damage and resulting lose of sensitivity!
It is the new official guideline from the Diabetes Association. I hope you can restore your numb and hardened fingertips!
Be well,

Thank you so much for posting this kind of blog, i really like your blog post..!!

Submitted by Marian (not verified) on

In reply to by Commenter (not verified)

How long does it take for a finger prick to heal well enough to not be subject to getting infected?

Hi, Marian. Your healthcare provider would be better able to answer that for you.

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