Shots Made Simple

Injections can seem scary at first, but most people quickly get used to them. The thin, small-gauge needles available today

Injections can seem scary at first, but most people quickly get used to them. The thin, small-gauge needles available today are specially coated and extremely sharp, so they slide easily into the skin with minimal pain. With a little practice and attention to a few details, shots soon become just another problem-free part of your daily routine.

When it comes to deciding where to inject, you have plenty of options. Anyplace that you have a layer of fat just below the skin is fair game — the abdomen, the tops and outer sides of your thighs, your buttocks, and your upper arms. But the allaround winner is the abdomen, which usually has the most ample folds of fat and absorbs insulin faster and more consistently than other areas do.

As a rule, you shouldn’t inject in the same site from one shot to the next. This can make the skin harden, create thick lumps, or cause small indentations to form. But neither do you want to move to a new part of the body with each shot, since insulin is absorbed more slowly in some areas than others, which would make it tougher to keep the effects of your injections consistent. Solution: Inject in the same general area, but place consecutive shots about an inch away from each other, rotating the sites as you go. If you’re injecting at several different times of day, you might want to take, say, your morning shots in one area of the body and your evening shots in another, but still rotate the shots at those times within their designated areas.

Fine, sharp needles go a long way toward keeping shots prick-free, but you can take additional steps to minimize the pain:

  • Relax. Tense muscles can promote tightness that makes it harder for the needle to penetrate your skin.
  • Clean the injection site ahead of time with plain soap and water. If you use alcohol as a disinfectant, wait until it dries before going ahead with your injection, or the needle may push alcohol into the skin, causing stinging.
  • Insert the needle quickly: As with tearing a bandage off sensitive skin, slowness and hesitation make it hurt more.
  • Keep the angle of the needle steady as it goes in and out so it’s not swiveling around under your skin.
  • Choose a fresh site with each injection so you’re not putting the needle into tissue that’s still sensitive from your last shot.
  • Avoid giving shots in the inner thigh, where rubbing from leg movement can cause soreness at the injection site.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest