Insulin Injection Sites
Last updated on June 19th, 2016
If you use insulin, you will have various injection sites for use in injecting exogenous insulin. The most common site for injecting insulin is the stomach or abdomen. Other common areas include the upper part of the arms, the upper aspect of the hips or buttocks, and the outer aspect of the thighs. These are the best places to inject insulin because:
- These are parts of the body that have the most fatty tissue beneath the skin. Insulin needs to be injected into fatty tissue and in areas of the body that don’t have that many nerves. Injecting insulin in areas of the body that don’t have many nerves means that you will have less pain during the injection.
- These are areas of the body that have the most subcutaneous tissue. Insulin is usually injected into the subcutaneous tissue located in the above-mentioned areas.
The best areas to inject insulin are dependent upon your body type. Some people find that putting insulin into the abdomen is preferable because it seems to absorb better in that area. For those who cannot pinch up at least a half-inch of fat on their abdomen need to look elsewhere for areas to inject insulin.
Your doctor can help you decide which areas of the body are best for injecting insulin. Both the degree of insulin absorption and the places you rotate for the injections will be considered.
Rotating Insulin Injection Sites
If you have type 1 diabetes and inject insulin at least three times daily, you will need to consider rotating injection sites as it is not a good idea to inject insulin into the same site every time. Doing so can cause lumps of hard tissue or extra fatty deposits to occur within the tissues. The lumps will look bad and will absorb insulin at a different rate when compared to normal fatty tissue so it will be harder to keep your blood sugars in good control.
There are two general rules to use for rotating insulin sites:
- Rotating within an injection site
- Inject into the same general location at about the same time every day
Insulin absorption varies according to the place you decide to inject it. This means that it is preferable to be consistent about where you inject your insulin each day. If, for example, you put your insulin into the thighs on one day, don’t inject it into the abdomen on another day. If your abdomen is where you always inject your evening dose, this is where you should stick to, although you won’t inject it exactly in the same place on your abdomen with each injection.
According to the leading manufacturing companies of insulin, insulin is injected in these ways:
- The slowest if you inject into the buttocks
- Relatively slow if you inject into the legs
- Somewhat slow if you inject into the arms
- The fastest if you inject into the stomach or abdominal area
Depending on what instructions you get from your doctor, you should make an attempt to inject your morning and lunch doses of insulin into the abdomen because it gets into the bloodstream faster from this location. You need quick absorption of insulin during the meal hours because it is needed to work on the carbohydrates you will eat during the meal.
Your bedtime or late evening meal insulin should be injected into the upper arm, buttocks, or thighs. This is where you inject long-acting insulin that will gradually take effect and will cover for the glucose in your bloodstream in the nighttime hours.
If you have to mix two different types of insulin in one injection, you can use anyplace to inject your insulin in. The short-acting insulin will absorb and work more rapidly, and the long-acting insulin will absorb more slowly.
Rotating Injections at the Same Site
To prevent the development of fatty deposits and hard lumps in an injection site, it is vital that you place your injections in different areas at any given injection site. Follow these rules:
- Try to imagine your abdomen as being a clock. Inject along the clock so you remember where to inject the next dose of insulin
- Switch sides within a given area. If you inject your nighttime insulin into the right side of the abdomen on one night, inject it on the left side of your abdomen on the next night.
If, for example, you need to inject your insulin 4 times daily and decide to put all of the injections into your abdomen, pretend that your abdomen is a clock and inject your noontime dose at the 12 o’clock position. Your next dose should then be at the 1 o’clock position and the one after that should be at the 2 o’clock position. Go around the clock so that you aren’t injecting the 12 o’clock position until 4 days later. This allows that spot to have a rest.
Tips for Rotating Sites
When you decide to rotate your sites, check with your doctor to make sure you are doing it correctly. You will eventually find areas on the body that provide you with the best blood sugar control at any given time of the day.
Here are some tips to follow:
- Don’t inject into scars or moles because the tissue is too tough for the absorption of insulin.
- Don’t inject near the belly button area. This is a tougher area of the abdomen and you won’t get good absorption of insulin in this area.
- Stay away from the inner aspect of the thighs as your thighs may rub against one another and will make this a site where the injection can be painful.
- If you decide to inject into the upper part of the arm, only inject into the outer aspect of the arm because there is much more fat there. Instead of pinching the upper arm, press it up against a door or a wall to get a piece of fatty tissue pinched up.
- Never inject into the same area all the time. Even if an area is known to be not painful, injecting there on a regular basis will cause you to have unsightly lumps and swelling in that area.
- Don’t inject insulin into a body part that will be soon exercising. When you exercise, you increase the blood flow to the affected area, which results in too fast absorption of long-acting insulin.
- Lessen the pain of injection by selecting a needle length and size that isn’t as painful.
- Make sure you rotate from left to right within the appropriate injection areas.
- Change injection sites at least every week or so. Move around within a given area for a week and then choose a different place for the next week.
- Insulin injection sites. http://www.bd.com/us/diabetes/page.aspx?cat=7001&id=7261. Accessed 5/16/16.
- Rotating your injection sites. http://www.bd.com/us/diabetes/page.aspx?cat=7001&id=7282. Accessed 5/16/16.