Insulin Injection Technique

A brief guide to insulin injection techniques.


Storage of insulin

  • Insulin should be stored in fridge 2 - 8 º C
  • Insulin in use can remain at room temperature for 4 weeks (5 weeks for Levemir).
  • However avoid any exposure to direct sunlight or heat from radiator.

Appearance of insulin 

  1. a) Quick Acting (QA) insulins are clear in appearance.
  2. b) Long Acting (LA) Analogues (Lantus and Levemir) are also clear solutions so it is important to check the name on your insulin.
  3. c) Isophane insulins (Humulin I - Insulatard) and Mixed insulins are cloudy. These insulins need to be resuspended because the insulin is bound to a protamine that slows its action. It is therefore essential to mix the insulin so that it is cloudy in appearance throughout.

Insulin comes in:

  • 10 ml Vials
  • Pen-fill Cartridges
  • Pre filled Pen devices

Preparation of Insulin

  • Check name of insulin
  • Check expiry date
  • Apply needle- (may be 4 mm 5 mm 6 mm 8 mm)
  • Prime needle - 2 units initially & until drops observed at needle tip
  • No need to disinfect injection site

Consider Injection Site

  • Insulin should be injected into subcutaneous tissue abdomen, thigh, and buttocks.
  • Abdomen has the quickest absorption rate
  • Thighs have a medium absorption rate
  • Buttocks have slowest absorption
  • Injecting in the arm is no longer recommended as the risk of injecting into muscle is increased. If insulin is injected into muscle the insulin is absorbed too fast.
  • Insert the needle at a 90 degree angle and press the plunger of the syringe or pen all the way down.
  • If using an insulin pen hold the needle in place and count to 6 seconds before removing to ensure the full dose of insulin is received.
  • With the correct needle length no pinch up of the skin is required. However if you are very slim it may be advisable to use a shorter needle length.
  • Heat increases insulin absorption, so be aware of hot baths/sauna/exercise.
  • Overuse of injection sites should be avoided.
  • Rotate injection sites.
  • In overused, fatty lumps can develop in injection sites known as lipohypertrophy (lipos).
  • If insulin is injected into areas of lipohypertrophy, the action of insulin can be very unpredictable.

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