Here are the best insulin injection sites to use listed in the order of popularity: abdomen, buttocks, thigh, and back of the arm.
But first some background on Insulin itself and why it needs to be injected. Insulin is a hormone that helps cells use glucose or sugar for energy. It works as a “key,” allowing the sugar or glucose to go from the blood and into the cell.
In type I diabetes mellitus, the body doesn’t make insulin. In type II diabetes mellitus, the body doesn’t use insulin properly, which can lead to the pancreas not being able to produce the right amount of insulin — or any, depending on the progression of the condition —insulin to meet your body’s needs.
Diabetes mellitus is normally managed with exercise and diet, with medications, including insulin, added as needed. If you have type I diabetes mellitus, insulin maybe required for life.
This may seem a little difficult at first, but you can easily learn to successfully administer insulin by yourself with the support of your healthcare provider, determination, and a little bit of practice.
There are many ways to take insulin, including syringes, insulin pumps, insulin pens, and jet injectors. Your healthcare provider will help you decide which technique is best for you.
Personally I am in favor of insulin pens since they are self contained and easy to use. However, they are also expensive so may not be an option unless you have great health insurance.
Syringes remain the most popular method of insulin delivery. They are the least expensive option, and almost all insurance companies cover them.
Syringes vary by the amount of insulin they can hold and the size of the needle. They are made of plastic and should be discarded immediately after one use.
Traditionally, needles used in insulin therapy and deliver were 12.7 millimeters (mm) in length. However, recent research shows that smaller 4 mm, 6 mm, and 8 mm needles are just as effective, regardless of body mass. This obviously means insulin injection is less painful than it was in the recent past.
Insulin is usually injected subcutaneously, which means into the fat layer under the skin. In this type of delivery, a short needle is used to inject the insulin into the fatty layer in- between the skin and the muscle.
Insulin should always be injected into the fatty tissue just below your skin. If for any reason, you inject the insulin deeper into your muscle, your body system will absorb it too quickly, it might not last as long as it should, and the injection is usually very painful. This can sometimes lead to low blood glucose levels.
Diabetics who takes insulin injection daily needs to rotate their injection sites. This is important because using the same spot all the time can cause lipodystrophy. In this condition, fat either breaks down or builds up under the skin, causing uncomfortable lumps or indentations that interfere with insulin absorption.
You can definitely rotate to different areas of your abdomen, making sure to keep injection sites about an inch apart. Insulin can also be injected into other parts of your body, including your thigh, arm, and buttocks.
Abdomen – the most popular and easy to use of the insulin injection sites
The preferred and most common site for insulin injection is your abdomen. Insulin is usually absorbed more quickly and predictably there, and that part of your body is also easy to reach. Select an area between the bottom of your ribs and your pubic area, while steering clear of the 2-inch area surrounding your navel.
You should also avoid areas around scars, skin blemishes or moles. These sites interfere with the way your body absorbs insulin. Stay clear of broken blood vessels and varicose veins as well.
Thigh – one of the trickier insulin injection sites since you need to inject into fat, not muscle
Arm – this site is easier for women to use than men due to differences in musculature
You can use the fatty area on the back of your arm, mostly between your shoulder and elbow.
You are not alone in treating your diabetes mellitus. Before beginning insulin therapy or any medication at all, your doctor or healthcare provider will show you the ropes. Remember, whether you are injecting insulin for the very first time, running into problems, or just have questions you need answers to, turn to your healthcare provider for professional advice and instructions.