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3 Tips For Injecting Insulin

March 17, 2020 | in Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels, New Diagnosis

Author Diana Rangaves, Doctorate PharmD from the University of California, San Francisco
I am the founder of Diana Rangaves Clinical Consultant Services, which provides educational content.
Editorial Review Phoebe Stoye, A.B. in Neurobiology, Harvard College
Clinical Review Nicholas Yozamp, MD, Washington University in St. Louis
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Have you always dreaded the painful insulin injections that you have to get regularly? Do not worry. We've got your back. Did you know you could inject insulin into your body more effectively and less painfully? Well, there are several useful tips to make life with insulin injections easier.

Tip 1: Always inject the fatty parts of your skin

The fatty areas of your skin include your buttocks, your belly, your thighs, and your arms. There should be enough fat at these sites to easily grasp a fold of skin. When you decide to use your abdomen for the injections, try to inject the insulin at least two inches from your belly button and away from any scars that you may have.

If injecting into the thigh, try inserting the needle on the outer part of your thigh rather than the inner part. This should be about four inches from your knee and four inches from the top of your leg. Never inject at the back of your thigh because of the presence of blood vessels around that area.

If you decide to inject on your buttock, do it around the 'wallet' area and not on the lower buttock. On your arm, you should inject the fatty tissue located in the back of your arm. This is in the area between the elbow and the shoulder.

Click here for a handy diagram of the places you should inject insulin.

Tip 2: Keep alternating the injection areas

As we have discussed, there are different parts of your body where you can inject insulin. If you keep injecting in the same area, you can quickly build up a scar, which in addition to being unsightly, can also interfere with the absorption of insulin. Keep rotating your injection sites to avoid forming scars.

For example, if you injected your right thigh in the morning, then you can inject the other one in the evening and so on. If you plan to inject your right thigh twice in the same day, then you should inject one and a half inches away from the last site. Alternating the sites will allow time for the tissue to heal and reduce the likelihood of scar formation.

Tip 3: Learn how to minimize pain with insulin injections

Injecting insulin doesn't have to be painful. More helpful suggestions to minimize pain include allowing the insulin to reach room temperature before injecting, getting rid of any bubbles if using a syringe, waiting for the rubbing alcohol to evaporate before injecting, relaxing (instead of tensing) the muscles in the injection area, penetrating the skin quickly without moving the needle in other directions, and not reusing needles.

(Editor's note: If you're interested in reading more about your insulin, including side effects, warnings, and a price comparison, search for it here on Caretalk!) Injecting yourself or a loved one can appear to be a daunting task. However, with training, practice, and patience, these three tips can ensure a straightforward and nearly painless process.