This Tiny Device Tickles Your Skin To Make Injections Easier

This is the TickleFlex, a pain-free injection device for folks who have to stick themselves with a needle over and over. You’ll still have to jab the needle into yourself, but you won’t notice the pain.

Diabetics, and folks on a lot of temporary medication need to inject themselves frequently. It can go well, or you can hit a nerve, or scrape the needle through muscle. And if you do this, next time you’ll be even more likely to mess up, because you’ll hesitate instead of going in hared and smooth.

The TickleFlex is a simple accessory for your regular disposable needle. And we mean simple. It’s little more than a silicone donut with flexible, grippy fingers. You slip it over the needle, and the little fingers tickle, or rather pinch, your skin before the needle enters. The tickle makes the skin pucker, firming up the subcutaneous fat beneath it. “The pinch saturates the nerve pathways,” says inventor Peter Bailey, “leaving no room for pain signals. It’s like scratching an itch.”

Bailey, an insulin user himself, says that he hasn’t felt pain in months, since he started to use his own device. That means “no more angst,” he says, which leads to more confident injections. The TickleFlex rosette also hides the needle, so you don’t see it penetrating the skin, which is good news for people with needle phobias.

For such a simple device, the design has a lot of neat tricks. For instance, the fingers act as a buffer, preventing the needle from going too deep. And if your hands aren’t steady, any wobbles move the skin around the needle too, so the needle remains centered over its original spot.CS