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Injection Sites

Insulin injections are given into fatty tissue. Areas of fatty tissue are shaded in the image below.

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Abdomen: If using this site, do not use the area within one inch of your belly button. Avoid using the belt line area since rubbing may irritate the site. Avoid scars from surgery.  

Arms: Use the back side of your upper arm in the fatty tissue. It can be hard to reach this area yourself. You can try pinching up the tissue by placing your arm over the back of a chair or brace it against a wall.

Thighs: Use middle and outer areas where you can pinch up tissue.  

Buttocks: Use any area where you can pinch up tissue. This site is not often used since it’s hard to reach. 

Site Rotation

Rotate your injection sites to prevent tissue damage. If tissue is damaged, the insulin may not absorb as well. This may make it harder to control your blood sugars. Some people keep a record of where their last shot was given to avoid these problems. If you choose one site, like the abdomen only, be sure to rotate shots within that site. 

Drawing Up Two Types of Insulin 

If you need two types of insulin at the same time of day and prefer to inject once, you may be able to combine them in one syringe. See the key points below.

(Not all insulin types can be mixed. Be sure to ask your health care team if it makes sense to mix the insulin types you take.)

Key Points 

  • Inject air into both vials before drawing up insulin.

  • Always draw up your clear insulin before the cloudy insulin.

  • If you draw too much cloudy insulin, discard the syringe and start again.

Drawing Up Insulin Before Dose Is Needed

  • NPH and regular insulin can be pre-filled up to 21 days before using.

  • Keep these pre-filled syringes in the refrigerator with the needle tip pointed upward. Rotate the syringe to mix the two insulins before using.

  • If NPH and rapid-acting insulin are mixed in the same syringe, give the dose as soon as you can after drawing it up. 

  • Glargine should not be pre-filled. Inject it as soon as you can after drawing it up.

The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #4315s