Some lucky diabetic people find that injecting themselves with insulin isn’t painful at all. But sadly, that’s not the case for a number of people required to give themselves regular injections. The routine of periodic insulin shots becomes something to dread and stress about.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to lessen or even eliminate the pain associated with insulin shots. Here are five ways to make injections less unpleasant:
Warm Insulin to Room Temperature
Insulin must be stored in a refrigerated environment, but that doesn’t mean you have to administer it cold. Cold insulin stings quite a bit more than room temperature insulin, as is the case for most injectable medications. Prior to giving yourself your injection, remove the insulin from the refrigerator and use body heat (hold it in your hand or beneath your armpit) to warm it. You’ll notice a less painful experience after following this protocol.
Rotate the Injection Site
If you inject the same part of your body over and over, you risk irritating your skin and increasing the pain of injections, not to mention increasing the chance of causing scarring. Rotating injection sites to different spots on the arms, legs, abdomen and buttocks will decrease pain while giving yourself your insulin. A good rule of thumb is to wait about seven days before using a spot again.
Learn How to Give the Shot Properly
Often times, the shot is painful because the giver isn’t familiar or practiced enough with the proper technique. A few tips will make sure that you’re applying the shot correctly, minimizing the pain.
Make sure to get a good grasp on a large area of skin and underlying fat as you can comfortably hold. Depending on your body type and how much fat you have, some areas may be better for this.
Hold the syringe with the thumb and three non-pinky fingers and with the needle pointed away from you, similar to how you’d hold a dart.
Your motion to penetrate the skin should be quick and assured. If you push the needle against the skin, it’s almost always going to be painful.
When the needle is in, depress the plunger and immediately withdraw the needle.
By following that technique, and practicing if need be, you may find that what was once an unpleasantly painful experience is now quite manageable.
Use a Numbing Agent
Some people find that using an icepack or ice cube to numb the injection site relieves the pain of injection. To attempt this technique, apply the ice cube or ice pack for several minutes prior to the injection. Be sure to clean the area where you applied the ice with alcohol before injecting the insulin.
For some people, the ice numbing is enough, but for others the pain is still significant. In that case, you may want to consider numbing creams. A number of options exist, some over the counter and some requiring a prescription. Even if you’re considering going with an over the counter numbing cream, be sure to consult with your doctor before incorporating that into your injection routine.
One prescription numbing cream option is EMLA. It’s quite likely to help manage the pain of injection, but it’s somewhat expensive and requires application 30 minutes before injection to become fully effective. So there’s a bit of a trade-off when considering that option.
Get an Insulin Pen
If you are taking only one kind of insulin, you may want to consider acquiring an insulin pen. This is an especially good option if you think that the pain you’re experiencing has a psychological component, such as a fear of needles. Using an insulin pen, you don’t have to look at the syringe, nor do you have to watch the actual needle penetrate the skin. If you believe that the visuals of giving the injection are contributing to the pain and stress, and insulin pen removes that aspect from the experience.