Do you have difficulty collecting enough fingerstick blood? Fingersticks aren’t much fun, but needing to stick yourself multiple times to get enough blood is even less fun. 

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are some helpful tips for your next fingerstick so you can get enough blood the first time and every time. Scroll down to see our infographic, or download the infographic here.

 

BEFORE THE FINGERSTICK

 

Tip 1 – Hydrate Yourself

Blood is 92% water, so make sure to drink enough water to help your blood flow more easily. Aim for 3 to 4 big glasses, including one big glass right before you stick your finger. To maximize results, you can start hydrating yourself the night before. Bonus points if you drink warm water! 

 

Tip 2 – Warm and Massage your Fingers, Hands, and Forearm

Fluid flows faster at higher temperatures. You can use this to your advantage! Massage the hand for the finger you chose with warm running water or warming devices such as heat pads for at least four minutes. Do not use temperatures higher than 40°C/105°F. Make sure to massage all the way up to your forearm to improve blood circulation in more areas. You can also try to wear as many clothes as possible to stay warm. DON’T SKIP OR SHORTCUT THIS STEP – proper temperature and circulation will make a big difference in how much blood you collect.

 

Tip 3 – Make Sure You Have the Correct Lancet

That’s right, there are different lancet needle sizes, and different shapes! Some lancets are designed for “high flow” to help get more blood out of the finger. If you are trying to fill up a small tube, you will definitely need the bigger needle size for high flow.

 

Tip 4 – Use the Correct Finger

Choose your middle (3rd) or ring (4th) finger. Do not use your pinky or thumb, because you can hit bone on your pinky, and your thumb can bleed profusely. That sounds scary, but don’t worry, your middle and ring finger are safe. It is also recommended to choose your least used finger, so use your best judgment.

Fingerstick finger locations

 

Tip 5 – Stick the Best Location on Your Finger

Where you stick your finger influences both your pain and blood flow. Aim between the side and center of your finger, like in the photo below. Never use the tip or center of your finger. Also, avoid callouses, swollen or cyanotic areas, scars, and rashes on your finger.

 

Tip 6 – Make Sure Your Fingers is Clean and Dry

Clean your finger with an alcohol wipe before the fingerstick, and let it dry completely! Otherwise, the alcohol could contaminate your blood sample and ruin your diagnostic results!

 

DURING THE FINGERSTICK

 

Tip 7 – Don’t Use the First Drop

Why not? The first drop of blood will have skin cells, which can interfere with your blood test. A lot of blood tests only use the plasma (liquid component of the blood), AND they test very small volumes, so if your sample has skin cells, your results could be inaccurate! After you stick your finger, simply wipe the first drop of blood away with gauze, and then begin collecting.

 

Tip 8 – Let Gravity Help You

Imagine running up a hill. It takes more effort than running down, right? Allow your blood to run downhill. If you can, stand up and simply try to hang your hand below your arm so your blood flows downwards with gravity. You can get creative with the positions, but make sure you’re comfortable and blood is flowing downwards!

 

Tip 9 – Don’t Milk Your Finger

If you’ve followed these steps, your blood should be flowing out, but if it’s not, please refrain from SQUEEZING your finger. If you squeeze or “milk” your finger, the blood could get contaminated with tissue cells. Your blood cells are also very fragile, and this violent treatment can burst them! This is called hemolysis, and it will cause unwanted components from inside your blood cells to be released into the blood sample. Don’t ruin the blood sample you worked so hard to obtain. Light pressure around your finger is okay.

 

Tip 10 – Don’t Scrape the Puncture Site

While collecting, don’t scrape the tube or collection surface against the puncture site. Scraping your finger could let more skin or tissue cells in, leading to unwanted contamination. Just let the blood flow or drip into the tube.

 

 

We hope these tips can help you get the most out of your next blood drawing endeavors! Fingersticks are a safe and effective practice when done correctly, and we hope we can help make your experiences more pleasant. And don’t forget to check out our shop to see Sandstone’s Torq Zero Delay Centrifuge products designed to ensure high quality capillary blood plasma or serum at the point of collection.

Infographic how to collect finger stick blood

 

References:

 

  1. WHO Guidelines on Drawing Blood: Best Practices in Phlebotomy. (2010). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK138654/
  2. CLSI GP42 Collection of Capillary Blood Specimens – 7th Edition, Vol. 40, No. 12, 2020
  3. CLSI GP42-A6. Procedures and Devices for the Collection of Diagnostic Blood Specimens; Approved Standard – Sixth Edition, Vol. 28, No. 25, 2008
  4. Niwinski, N. Capillary Blood Collection: Best Practices. Vol. 20, No. 1, 2009.

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