Alcohol prep pads will dry the skin, so even though they sterilize the finger, they may eventually make callous problems worse. Washing with warm soapy water is less drying and will also kill most germs. Also, the warm water method can help by allowing the warmth to expand blood vessels on the surface of the skin so it is easier to get a good drop of blood with just a slight *****. As a type 1 diabetic myself, I can spleak from experience on WHERE to ***** -- definitely go for the sides of the fingers, for the blood is easily obtainable there but sides of fingers is much less painful for the diabetic than finger pads. I find that I bruise less on finger sides also. The only place I would recommend pricking the finger pad itself would perhaps be on a thumb, where skin may be too thick to get a good drop on the sides of the fingers. As for whether to wipe off the first drop or not, if the hands are thoroughly clean AND DRY, this is not necessary. I recommend using the first drop, for if you squeeze hard to get a second drop, other fluids can be added to the blood and slightly skew results. In reality, it probably won't make a significant difference in your final result whether you use the first drop or a second drop, so I opt for the easier solution. Again, I would not worry overly about how much blood you actually get on the strip. The results are not going to change significantly with just a tiny drop or a big drop. The strips themselves absorb the correct amount of blood for testing, and the results are almost lab-accurate (I have done comparisons when having blood drawn in labs just to see how close the finger ***** method is to lab results, and they are very close). Any slight difference in final glucose number based on size of blood drop is going to be not enough to change treatment based upon that particular test.
I think that conventional wisdom has evolved over time ... at least it seems to have in the 35ish years I've had diabetes.
Because alcohol can be so drying to our skin, and because diabetics often suffer from dry skin anyway, it is good practice to wash our hands with warm (not hot) soap & water soon before we test. This practice not only cleans the skin but can help warm up our fingers.
Using the sides of our fingers is recommended because, as I understand it, we have fewer nerve endings there & so it hurts less. It's very good to rotate thru your fingers and on both sides of your fingers to slow the creation of callouses.
Finally, I use the first blood that comes out of my finger stick. I have read that our test might be less accurate if, for example, we get a stick that doesn't bleed too well and then we SQUEEEEEZE really hard to get enuf for the test. Doing so can result in some non-blood, interstitial fluid being mixed into what should be a simple blood sample. I'm not sure how this affects the test, but it apparently does.
I'm not a physician, just a long time diabetic. I hope my comments help you. Y'know, one of the BEST things we can do for ourselves is to test often (and begin to recognize patterns), and it sounds as tho' you're interested to master the technique.
Do check back, I'm sure you'll receive other ideas ... then let us know how you're doing.
I wanted to add something to JDRF-Team-LRS's comment.
Another thing I have heard about using alcohol when you test is that the alcohol can dilute the test and give you a less accurate reading. A false low reading!!!
That is why in the hospital where we work we only use alcohol if the patient cannot get up to use the sink.
I havent used alcohol since right after i was Dx ed in 1996.
I dont seem to have a problem with the readings by just using soap and water.
Hope this helps
Dm er since 1996