Prevention is the best option

Administering insulin

Administració d'insulina a Vall d'Hebron

If the pancreas does not secrete insulin or does not secrete enough, it is essential to add it from outside. For now, the only way to do this is to inject it, since if it is digested, the stomach destroys it. 


What do you need to bear in mind if you need to inject yourself with insulin or you look after someone who does?  



You do not need to disinfect the skin around the area you are going to inject with alcohol, but you do need to maintain good body hygiene and wash your hands first.  

If you are using alcohol, let it evaporate before you inject, as it may be more painful otherwise.


Thickness of subcutaneous tissue

Insulin must be injected into the subcutaneous tissue. It will then slowly make its way into the blood and start to act.

  • If injecting directly into muscle. Absorption is quicker and may cause hypoglycaemia.
  • If injecting just under the skin, the absorption is slower, more painful and may lead to an immunological reaction.


Injection areas

  • Arms: in the upper external part. Leave a space of 4 fingers above the elbow and 4 below the shoulder. If you cannot pinch your arm when injecting, be careful to avoid intramuscular administration
  • Abdomen: leave a distance of 4 fingers around the navel. It is a good idea to divide the injection zone into four imaginary parts and rotate injection zone on a weekly basis.
  • Thighs: upper outside, 4 fingers below the groin and 4 fingers about the knee
  • Buttocks: leave 4 fingers below the hips


Repeated pricks in the same area over time may cause lipodystrophy or deformations in the subcutaneous tissue due to inflammation or reduction. It can be easily identified as bruises appear beneath the skin.

If you do have lipodystrophy, either: do not inject that area for a while until the lipodystrophy goes away; or change needles more often.


Needle length

Research recommends 5 mm needles for everyone, as there is not thought to be much difference between the thickness of subcutaneous tissue, regardless of the person’s physical constitution.



The correct pinch is done using the index and middle fingers and the thumb. Grab the skin and subcutaneous tissue, without lifting the muscle. Once the insulin has been injected, wait a few seconds before withdrawing the needle and letting go of your skin.