Islets of Hope  care tips for persons with diabetes

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Article disclaimer

Compiled by Lahle Wolfe, who is not a medical doctor but has diabetes, and is a parent of a young child with diabetes who uses an insulin pump.


BD Diabetes: How to inject insulin

Mayo Clinic: Video; How to inject insulin


Tips are sent to us and compiled into our "Diabetes Care Tips" section for general information only. Tips are based on the experiences and opinions of those who submit tips to IOH and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and position of IOH.

Advice found in any part of our "Diabetes Care Tips" section is not intended, nor should be as a substitute for the care and advice of a licensed medical health professional.

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To read more about insulin including devices, pumps, types of insulin, how to inject with pens, and more,  see Treatment Options menu.

There are many parts of the body that you can inject. It is important to note how you react to various sites. For example, sometimes, injecting in areas that are more muscular (i.e., thighs and buttocks) may be more sensitive to insulin than fattier areas like hips, tummy and the arms.  If you are going to be exercising, or using a particular muscle group, it is better to inject in another area like the tummy or hips.  This is because exercise increase temperature and blood circulation, especially to muscles, this in turn can increase the rate of insulin absorption and may lead to hypoglycemia.

Do not inject:

  • near moles

  • near scars

  • areas that look inflamed, infected, or have a rash

  • within 2 inches of the naval (all the way around)

  • the same spot


It is important that you rotate injection sites.  Repeatedly injecting into the same site can cause fat deposits to build up and scarring.  This will make the site less sensitive to insulin absorption and make blood glucose more unpredictable.


diabetes care tips                                           View BD's animated demo of preparing & injecting insulin

Tips for Injecting Insulin

Tips on how to give an injection of insulin

Have all your supplies ready and in one place.  Then:

  1. Hands.  Wash hands with warm, soapy water using plenty of friction.
  2. Clean the site.  Make sure the injection site is clean and sterilized with soap and water or an alcohol pad.  The area should be dry before injecting because you need to make sure all the insulin gets under the skin.  If skin is wet you won't be able to tell.
  3. Numbing the area.  You can numb the area with ice, a bag of frozen vegetables (never put cold objects directly on the skin, wrap them in a hand towel or wash cloth).  This is usually not necessary but sometimes helps children feel better about a forthcoming shot.

    Numbing creams that contain lidocaine are expensive and have some side effects and are not recommended for multiple daily injections.

    Cold insulin right from the refrigerator can causes stinging when injected.  It is fine to let your pen, or syringe warm up for 5 minutes, or, even the bottle of insulin for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Pinch up a fold of skin surrounding the site you've selected. Hold it firmly with one hand  You can inject insulin into muscle, but it is more painful and it is better to inject into fat when possible.
  5. Inserting the needle.  Faster is better, inserting slowly will cause more pain.  Try inserting the needle almost like you would toss a dart.
  6. Needle angle.  For adults or those with good fatty tissue, insert at a 90 angle. Thin adults and children may need to inject at a 45 angle. Try to get the needle all the way into fatty tissue below the skin, but not so deep that it hits the muscle below.
  7. Injecting the insulin. Push the syringe plunger all the way in with a slow steady motion or firmly press the insulin pen injection button. The injection should take a couple of seconds, unless you take a very small dose. Let go of the skin.
  8. Remove the needle by pulling straight out. Twisting or shifting the needle's position will cause pain.  You may gently press on the injection site with your finger for a couple seconds. Do not rub or massage the skin where the insulin is injected; it can affect how fast the insulin is absorbed and acts within the body.

Why does insulin leak out of my injection site?

This can happen if because the dose was large and injected too quickly, or because the needle was removed too fast or not inserted deeply enough.  This may affect your blood glucose for a while so be sure to check more often (not getting enough insulin leads to hyperglycemia).  Next time try:

  • Syringe suggestion.  After injecting, wait 5 seconds before removing needle from site.
  • Insulin pens.  Count to 10 while injecting instead of 5.  
  • Apply pressure.  You can put light pressure directly on the injection site with your finger tip.  Your hands have already been washed and putting a finger on the injection site is very unlikely to cause an infection.

What are some things I can do to minimize pain and "stinging" when giving shots to my child?

Make sure alcohol used to clean the injection site is completely dry before injecting (alcohol makes finger pricks sting too).

If you're using cold insulin, let it warm up to room temperature before using it. If you can't wait, gently roll the syringe or bottle between your hands to warm the insulin up (and mix it at the same time) before injecting it.

Use a new needle with each injection.  Although needles can be reused, they become duller with each use and the tips bend a little with each use.  This makes injections more painful (change lancets in blood lancing devices once a day for the same reason).

Inserting the needle too slowly or moving the needle around under the skin after it's inserted causes pain and may also cause bruising.

Help your child to relax before inserting the needle.  Poking into tense bodies hurts more than when a child can relax.

For more information see:

How to inject insulin with a syringe or insulin pen

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Page Updated 08/25/2006