A guide to safe and easy self-injections
A safe subcutaneous (SC) injection starts with thorough hand washing to prevent infection.
Step 1: Wash your hands
Follow these steps to wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Be sure
to scrub all over your hands, including:
- Backs of hands
- Under the fingernails
- Between fingers
- Rub your hands together to make a lather. Scrub all the surfaces
of your hands, including under your fingernails (see above).
- Continue rubbing your hands for about 20 seconds—this is about
the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song, twice.
- Rinse your hands with water.
- Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your
paper towel to turn off the faucet.
If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based
- Apply the sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
- Rub the sanitizer over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until
your hands are dry.
Step 2: Set up your medicine and supplies
Check the medicine name, dose, and expiration date. If your medicine is stored in the refrigerator, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 to 40 minutes before you plan to inject it so it can warm up to room temperature.
Then follow these steps to set up your medicine and injection supplies:
- Place your medicine and supplies on a clean, dry surface—like a bathroom or kitchen counter or table.
- Prepare your medicine exactly as directed by your doctor. And follow the Package Insert (Instructions For Use section) included with your medicine. The instructions to prepare your medicine may vary depending on the dosage form (how your medicine is supplied by the manufacturer). Some examples include pre-filled syringes and pen devices. These have the medicine already inside and don’t require any mixing.
- Follow the directions in the Package Insert (Instructions For Use section) to learn how to: • Attach a needle to your prefilled syringe or pen device if one isn’t already attached. • Prime—or remove—the air from the pre-filled syringe or pen device. Some pre-filled syringes and pens don’t require this step.
- Cover the needle with a cap. If your pre-filled syringe or pen device already has a capped needle, make sure it stays capped to keep it from touching anything. 5. Set the prepared medicine aside until you’re ready for your injection.
Step 3: Prepare to Inject Your Medicine
SC injections are given using small needles. Use the needle size(s) instructed
by your doctor or the Package Insert.
Then follow these tips to prepare for your injection:
- Choose where you will inject your medicine
- SC injections are usually given in the upper arms, stomach or thighs. Rotate the site with each injection. Keep a written record to remember which site you last injected your medicine.
- Do not inject into areas where the skin is injured, tender, hard, red, hot or has visible veins, scars or stretch marks.
- Clean the injection area with an alcohol wipe using a back-and-forth motion.
- Wait for the alcohol to air dry completely.
Step 4: Inject your Medicine
Your medicine will work best when it’s given the right way and exactly as directed. Follow these tips for your best outcomes:
- Carefully take off the cap, making sure the needle doesn’t touch anything.
- Hold the syringe or pen as instructed in the Package Insert (Instructions For Use). With the other hand, pinch the body area where you will inject to gather up the fatty layer beneath your skin.
- Quickly push the needle into the pinched skin either straight up and down or at a slight angle, depending on how your doctor instructed.
- After the needle is in, let go of the skin you were pinching.
- Inject the medicine by gently pushing the pre-filled syringe plunger at a slow and steady pace until the syringe is empty. If you’re using a pen device, press the injection button completely (or until it clicks) then wait 10 to 20 seconds before removing the needle from the skin.
- Quickly pull the needle out and press gently on the site with an alcohol swab or tissue.
Step 5: Dispose of Used Injection Supplies
Safe disposal of injection supplies (like syringes, empty pen devices and needles) is important whether you are at home, work, school or traveling. Dispose of supplies properly in a sharps container (a rigid, puncture-proof, leak-proof container).
Safely dispose of after each injection with these tips:
- Store the sharps container upright and keep it out of the reach of children or animals.
- Get a new sharps container when the one you’re using is about two-thirds full so you have an empty one already on hand when it becomes full. Call your CareTeam or ask your local CVS Pharmacy® pharmacist if you need information on where to get one.
- Once the sharps container is full, securely tape the lid shut. • Dispose of all sharps containers in assigned areas provided by the community or national services like drop-off collection sites at selected doctor’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics. Talk to your doctor or visit www3.epa.gov for more information on safe supply disposal in your area.
- After your injection, do not reuse needles or recap needles on a syringe or pen. Never discard loose needles or syringes in the garbage, recycling bins, or in the toilet. Instead, dispose of them in a sharps container right away.
H/T: CVS Pharmacy