Nurse trains young girl on insulin injections

Written by Sidney Smith, BSN, RN, CDCES

We’ve all had moments where an insulin injection just doesn’t go the way you want. The insulin burns going in, you watch the insulin leak out of your skin as soon as you pull out the needle, or you give an injection that doesn’t seem to change your blood sugar at all. It’s hard enough to have to give an injection several times a day, so any injections gone wrong can make it even worse. Luckily, we have a few tips to help make all your insulin injections go just a little more smoothly!

Ice Ice Baby

Keep a spoon in the freezer and place it on the injection site after you remove the needle to help minimize any stinging or burning from the injection

Keep Insulin at Room Temp

Did you know insulin can be kept at room temperature for one month once it’s open? Cold insulin tends to sting more going in, so keep your insulin at room temperature for a more comfortable injection.

Take Your Time

Nothing is worse than finishing an injection only to realize not all the insulin went in. Press the plunger all the way down and make sure to hold the pen or the syringe in your skin for a full 10 seconds to make sure all the insulin gets in.

Give it a Twist

When you are pulling the needle out of your skin, give your wrist a slight twist so the needle spins a little on the way out. This helps make sure every drop of insulin gets off the needle and helps prevent any insulin from leaking out.

Location Location Location

Did you know that certain injection sites absorb faster than others? Insulin typically absorbs fastest in the abdomen, then the arms, and absorbs slowest in the thighs and the buttocks. However, if you are planning to be active, avoid injecting near the muscles you plan to work out. Working out the muscles near your injection site can make the insulin absorb faster and cause low blood sugar!

Spread the Love

Make sure to rotate your injection spots. Everyone has a favorite spot, but if you use it too much scar tissue can build up and the insulin won’t absorb as well. This can lead to unpredictable blood sugar levels. Try to avoid injecting in the same spot twice in a row.

Assess Your Site

If your skin feels lumpy, bumpy, or hard when you press on it,  choose a different spot. This usually means some scar tissue has built up in that spot and the insulin won’t absorb as well. Choose other spots until your skin no longer feels hard or lumpy.

Insulin injections can be tough, but these tips and tricks can help you have a smooth injection every time!

Learn more about insulin injection techniques.

Sidney Smith BSN, RN, CDCES

Sidney Smith, BSN, RN, CDCES, currently works as a Diabetes Resource Nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Washington, D.C.

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