We get it. Needles can be scary. For most, it’s not everyday you interact with needles, let alone use one on yourself. We’ll walk you through how to go about it so feel a bit of a boost in your bravery. You will find everything you need to know on how to give yourself a shot.
Basically, for prescription medications there are two types of injections — intramuscular injections and subcutaneous injections
Intramuscular injections are all about the muscle. These guys weigh in at about one inch long and 0.7-0.5 mm wide for adults and are injected into a muscle. For instance, if you’ve ever received a shot at the doctor’s for antibiotics, vaccines or vitamins, you may have experienced an intramuscular injection.
The thigh, butt, hip or upper arm is going to be your point of contact, but the thigh is easy since it’s an accessible spot to reach. The needle goes straight in, about halfway between your butt and hip, on the outside of your thigh, as you hold the surrounding area with your index finger and thumb.
In the other corner we have subcutaneous injections. They weigh in smaller, at 0.24-0.5 inches long and 0.5-0.3 mm wide for adults, because the medications they carry don’t need to go as deep. The injection is made between the muscle and skin in the fatty layer. Semaglutide falls into their category, as well as some fertility drugs and blood thinners.
You’re going to want to aim for the thigh, stomach, side of the upper arm or back of your upper arm with these injections. The stomach is convenient since it’s reachable and often less painful. You’ll pinch about an inch of fatty tissue, as long as it’s at least two inches from the belly button, and stick the needle in at a 45-90 degree angle.
It’s important to rotate where the needle is injected each time, at least an inch away from the previous location. This way, it gives these areas time to heal and recover from their most recent impaling. This may mean cycling through the appropriate body parts each injection in order to keep track.
In addition, you will find instructions with your medication, taking you through the process, step by step. If you have any questions, be sure to contact a professional beforehand. Here is a general idea of what the instructions will look like:
How To Give Yourself A Shot
Prepare Syringe For Injection
• Remove the vial from the refrigerator/freezer.
• Collect all supplies: syringe/needle, alcohol swab, and vial.
• With first use of a vial, remove the flip top (this will not be replaced).
• Clean the rubber stopper with an alcohol swab.
• View directions provided by the practitioner to determine the number of UNITS you will inject.
• Put air into the syringe by pulling down on the plunger to the amount of UNITS that you will be injecting.
• With the vial upright, put the needle into the rubber stopper and inject air into the vial.
• While the needle is still in the vial, turn the vial upside down and pull back the plunger to the number
of UNITS prescribed.
Prepare & Choose Injection Site
Choose the injection site. Subcutaneous injections are primarly injected into the abdomen or optionally the upper/outer thigh. Clean the area with an alcohol swab.
Injection Technique To Follow
1. Hold the syringe one inch above the injection site at a 90 degree angle to the skin.
2. Quickly stab the needle through the skin into the fat tissue.
3. Slowly push down the plunger to inject the medication and
remove the needle once medication is fully injected.
4. Place used needle/syringe and any empty drug vials in
a hard-plastic container (Sharp’s container).
Self-Subcutaneous Injection Guide
• Medication: Verify the type and dosage.
• Syringe and Needle: Ensure proper size for subcutaneous injections.
• Alcohol Swabs: Maintain a sterile injection site.
• Sharps Container: For safe disposal of used needles.
Hand Hygiene — Wash hands thoroughly
Medication Check — Confirm the correct medication and prepare as instructed
Choose the injection site. Subcutaneous injections are primarily injected into the abdomen or optionally the upper/outer thigh.
Sterilize the Site — Use an alcohol swab to clean the chosen area.
Skin Pinch — Pinch a fold of skin between thumb and forefinger.
Needle Insertion — Insert the needle at a 90 degree angle.
Needle Removal — Withdraw the needle gently.
Dispose of Sharps — Safely discard used needle and syringe in a sharps container.
For personalized guidance or concerns, consult a healthcare professionals. Always adhere to prescribed dosage and guidelines for optimal results in self-administration.
Check out this video on how to give yourself an injection.