5 Tips to Make Insulin Injections Easier

5 Tips to Make Insulin Injections Easier

These common injection mistakes can lead to bruising and scars.

Have you ever developed a bruise after giving yourself an insulin injection? Bruising can occur when pressure on the area causes the small blood vessels to rupture and bleed without breaking the skin. The trapped blood is what causes that tender purple or black spot to appear.

In most cases, bruising caused by insulin injections aren't serious. When bruising happens infrequently, it’s usually the result of accidentally hitting a capillary with the needle. But if bruising is more frequent, it may be caused by using an improper injection technique.

Here are a few common mistakes people make when administering insulin injections that can cause bruising, along with some advice on how to correct the issue.

Not having the proper training
The first step to avoid bruising is to make sure you are administering your injections properly. If you are frequently experiencing bruising, visit a healthcare provider who can watch you administer your shot and, if necessary, help you adjust your technique. In addition to working with your primary healthcare provider, you may want to work with a certified diabetes educator. Certified diabetes educators are specifically trained in many aspects of managing diabetes and are a great source of education and information.

Injecting into the wrong spot
Injections should ideally go directly into fat tissue, not the muscle underneath. In areas with less fat, the injection will reach the muscle, which can be quite painful and also cause a bruise to form. Needles that are too long may also cause this.

Not injecting at the right angle
Lift a fold of skin and inject the insulin at a 90-degree angle, not at a slanted angle. A straight on approach will allow you to puncture the skin more easily and decrease the chances of bruising.

Using the same spot for your injection each time
You need to move at least one to two inches from the last injection site to allow the spot to heal between injections. Injecting into the same spot repeatedly can cause bruising as well as a buildup of scar tissue. Rotating injections in the same general area (for example, your abdomen) will give you the best results. You may also use the outer side of the front upper thigh, back of the upper arm and upper outer part of the buttocks, but the absorption may be slower.

Using the wrong size needle
This can be a common problem, especially with needles that are too large. Studies have shown that needles as short as 4mm are enough to deliver insulin. Choosing the correct needle size is something else that your healthcare provider or certified diabetes educator can help you with.

Perfecting your insulin injection technique
Every person has different needs and may see different results from their insulin injections. This makes it essential to work with your healthcare provider or certified diabetes educator to find out what's best for your specific situation. Improper insulin injection may contribute to uncontrolled blood glucose levels and lead to more serious health consequences.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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