How to Test Blood Sugar


This is a practical step-by-step guide for how to test blood sugar. Share it with your family or friends who might be testing your child’s blood for the first time, or use it as a guide for yourself if you’re new to the game.

How to prick a finger and test blood:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean fingertip with alcohol if you prefer. Be sure that it is VERY dry.
  • Set the needle to 2 or 3 to start by turning the round tip at the top of the pricker to match up with the white line.
  • Insert a glucose meter strip into the meter. Put the black and white end of the strip into the meter. Do not touch the white/yellow tip. (This action will “wake” the meter and in a moment you will see a prompt on the screen with a drop of blood. This indicates it’s ready to go.)
  • Cock the needle by pushing on the end of the pricker (like a pen). A bubble on the side will come up yellow when the needle is cocked.
  • For best results, squeeze finger below the prick area to make the tip swollen with blood.
  • Prick finger by pushing the pricker against clean fingertip and then pushing the yellow button.
  • Squeeze up a bead of blood. It needs to be a proper drop—if the blood gets watery or runs down the finger, the reading may be inaccurate (showing a lower than true number).
  • Touch the white/yellow tip of the strip to the bead of blood and wait until the meter beeps, indicating the blood is read.
  • Lightly dab the blood with a paper towel—the hole closes almost instantly.

If you have trouble drawing a drop of blood:

  • Wash the hands with warm water (and dry them well of course).
  • Shake hands around a bit to increase circulation.
  • Don’t hold the finger up in the air as the blood will flow out of the finger.
  • Increase the needle setting to 3.5, or more if necessary.
  • Stay hydrated—it’s harder to get a bead of blood if you are not.

Read about how to give your loved one an insulin injection.

WRITTEN BY Blythe Nilsson, POSTED 10/25/15, UPDATED 12/22/22

A former English teacher with a Masters in English Education from Columbia University, Blythe has lived and worked all around the world. She likes words, learning and traveling to new places. Her son Kip was diagnosed at 24 months while their family was living in South East Asia. Blythe also serves as a consulting editor for Beyond Type 1.