Life with MS

Proper Injection Technique

By Laura McCatty, RN, MSCN and Sherry Adcock RN, MSCN

Preparation – Always start with clean hands and clean skin. Wash and dry your hands with a clean paper towel. Never use a needle that has touched anything other than freshly-cleaned skin. Use a clean surface to prepare your injection and make sure to keep pets away from your preparation and injection area. 

Preinjection – Consider timing your injection for after you’ve taken a shower or bath. Select an area for the injection, choosing skin that appears healthy. Make sure you are rotating injection sites consistently; use a different site each time, avoiding scars, moles, bony areas and the area around your waistband. Make sure subcutaneous injection sites are more than two inches from your navel.

Clean the area of skin you’ve chosen, making sure to allow alcohol to air dry before your injection. Do not blow on your skin. You may want to apply cool or warm compresses, but avoid using ice to numb the area. Ask your doctor about a topical anesthetic, if needed.

Injection – Your medication should be at room temperature and fully dissolved. Always use a new needle that is sterile and dry. Never wipe the needle with anything, not even an alcohol wipe, as this contaminates the needle. If your needle touches anything other than clean skin, use another one. Do not inject through clothing.

Position yourself comfortably. Ask a loved one for help if you need to inject into a hard-to-reach area. If you are using an auto injector, don’t push down too hard. Count to 15 before removing the needle. If you are injecting manually, make sure to hold the needle at a 90 degree angle while you depress the plunger and pull the needle out straight.

Postinjection – Apply pressure with dry cotton ball. Depending on which medication you use, you might massage the injection site. You can apply a cool or warm compress to your skin. Again, no ice. Avoid using a bandage or adhesive on sensitive skin.

 (Last reviewed 8/2009)