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Basic Skills for Living with Diabetes

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Diabetes health tip

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Taking insulin: How to give an insulin injection (shot)

General information

  • Use the following instructions when injecting insulin for diabetes.
  • Do not mix your diabetes medicine with any other medicines.

Where to give shots

Choose an injection area in your abdomen, upper or outer thigh, the back of your upper arms, or the buttocks.

How to give shots

1. Collect all of your supplies and place them on a clean surface, like a clean cloth or paper towel.

2. Wash your hands before starting.

a hand removes cap from insulin bottle

3. Remove the cap from the insulin bottle.

hand wipes top of insulin bottle

4. Using friction, wipe the top of the insulin bottle with an antiseptic like alcohol, Betadine® or Chloraprep®.

a hand demonstrates syringe use

5. Use a new syringe. Pull the plunger to draw air into the syringe. The amount of air should equal the amount of insulin being drawn up. Take off the needle cover.

needle is pushed into insulin bottle

6. Gently push the needle through the rubber on the cleaned insulin bottle. Push the plunger of air into the bottle.

bottle and syringe turned upside down

7. Hold the bottle and syringe in one hand. Keep the top of the needle in the bottle. Turn it upside down. You may need to adjust your needle to keep it in the solution. Use your other hand to move the plunger back to draw the dose into the syringe.

hand taps syringe

8. Check the syringe for air bubbles. Too much air means your dose is not right. Push the plunger up so the insulin goes back into the bottle. Redraw the dose. Tapping the syringe with your finger may help the air bubbles go to the top of the syringe. If bubbles remain at the top, push the plunger to remove bubbles.

hand holds syringe upright

9. Pull the bottle off the needle and check your dose. Cover the needle tip with the needle guard or put the syringe down on a sterile surface, like on a sterile gauze. Make sure the needle does not touch anything.

bottle and syringe turned upside down

10.Choose an injection area in your abdomen, upper or outer thigh, the back of your upper arms, or the buttocks. Inject the insulin in that area for two weeks, choosing a different spot each time. After two weeks, move to another injection area.

11. Slowly press down on the plunger. Make sure you inject all of the insulin Pull the needle straight out and put light pressure on the injection site. Do not rub or put lotions, creams, or ointments or powder on the area.

12. Throw away the needle in a container that has been approved by your doctor. Do not wrap the needle and throw it away in the regular garbage.


Source: Allina Health Patient Education, How to Give an Insulin Injection (Shot), dia-ahc-13678

First published: 03/01/2006
Last updated: 03/01/2006

Reviewed by: Allina Health Patient Education experts