Choosing Your Subcutaneous Injection Site

Subcutaneous injection into the thigh. Photo © Nicole Galan

Giving a subcutaneous injection is actually a pretty simple task. It may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never given an injection. But with time and practice, you will feel much more comfortable doing them. A subcutaneous injection delivers the medicine into the layer of fatty tissue directly below the skin. A small needle, usually 27g or 28g and ½ inch long, is required.

Selecting the proper site for the injection is key to your success and minimizing discomfort associated with the injection.

You have a few choices. The most widely used and usually the preferred site is the lower abdomen, about an inch away from the belly button. Another popular site is the front of the thigh, about half way down and right in the middle. Finally, you can use the fleshy back of the upper arm as well. It does not matter which site you choose unless your doctor gives you specific instructions.

No matter which site you choose, make sure to rotate your sites. Don’t inject into the same area with every injection. Don’t inject into scar tissue or bruising on the skin. You can use ice before the injection to numb the skin if you are concerned about pain, but make sure to clean it with an alcohol wipe after applying the ice. Generally speaking, the injection will be less painful wherever you have a little more fatty tissue. However, in time you will find what works for you.

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