How to use Insulin Pen

Insulin Pen | How to Use an Insulin Pen | NU Hospitals Bangalore, India
  • What is Insulin pen?

    It is a device used to inject Insulin. It has Insulin prefilled in a cartridge, a dial that helps in delivering the prescribed dose and needle that is available separately and can be fixed to the pen.

  • What are the types of Insulin pen?

    Insulin pen is available as durable or reusable pen in which the cartridge can be replaced once it is empty and disposable pen in which the entire pen is discarded once the cartridge is empty. Disposable pens are easy to use as it is not necessary to load new cartridge but they are more expensive.

  • What are the advantages of Insulin pen?

    Insulin pens are very easy to use (no need to load the syringe) and carry (all the required items for injection are available in a single unit) and less painful (smaller needles) and less time consuming than syringes. An accurate dose can be preset on the dosage dial, which can be useful for diabetics who also have impaired vision. Therefore it can be extremely useful for those having limited visual and motor skills.

  • What are the disadvantages of Insulin pen?

    Insulin pens are more expensive and not all types (fast acting, long acting, intermediate acting, mixtures) are available as cartridges. Mixing different types of Insulin is not possible with pens and more pricks will be required in such a situation. One to two units of Insulin is wasted before each injection when the pen is primed (see below).

  • How do you store insulin pen?

    Unopened Insulin pen or cartridge should be stored in the refrigerator (do not freeze); opened Insulin pens can be stored at room temperature for at least 14 days. Store Insulin pen with the needle pointing up. This is a general guideline; always refer to the product package insert for storage guidelines specific to your Insulin formulation.

  • How do you use Insulin pen?

    1. Wash your hands clean with soap and water
    2. Take the cap off Insulin pen
    3. Gently roll the pen between your hands to mix the Insulin if using milky white Insulin
    4. Screw the needle onto the pen. Remove the outer (if it is a new needle) and inner covers from the needle
    5. Turn the dose dial to 2 units, then hold the pen with the needle pointing upward and press the dose knob with your thumb to clear the air from the Insulin pen. You should see one or two drops of Insulin over the needle tip following this procedure (called priming); if not, repeat the steps until you see it
    6. Reset the dial back to zero after priming
    7. Turn the dial clockwise till you see the number for your Insulin dose; the dial can be rotated backward also if required
    8. Choose the site of injection and clean it with spirit swab. Wait till the spirit dries
    9. Pinch and hold the skin of the chosen site with your left hand
    10. Curl the fingers of your right hand around the upper end of the pen and insert the needle into the skin at 90 degrees. The needle should go all the way into the skin. You can take out your left hand now
    11. Using the right thumb, push the dose knob of the pen slowly until all the Insulin is injected (till you see zero in the dial). Leave the needle for 5 to 10 seconds to prevent the back leak of Insulin
    12. Pull the needle out of the skin and clean the area with spirit swab; do not rub the site
    13. It is recommended not to reuse the needle. In case you want to reuse the needle, discard it after 5-6 uses or when injection is painful with the same needle. When you want to reuse, close the needle with the inner needle cover and unscrew the needle from the pen. Put the cap back on the Insulin pen and keep the needle and Insulin pen in the box provided.

  • Is insulin injection painful?

    With Insulin pen, pain will be insignificant. However the injections can be painful if the technique is wrong (follow the correct method as advised above) or the needle has become blunt (change the needle or syringe) or the same site is used for injection repeatedly (rotate the injection site regularly once in few days).

  • Will the injection cause bleeding?

    If taken properly then there will be no bleeding at the injection site. Occasionally there may be small amount of ooze which stops on its own (apply pressure with cotton for a while).

  • What do I do when I am travelling?

    You can carry your Insulin pen along and use where ever you go. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or heat.

  • When do I change the needle in Insulin pen?

    Though the same needle is used 5-6 times by most of the patients, the recommendation is not to reuse the needles because of the concerns for microscopic injury to the tissue at the site of injection and microscopic damage to the needle tips following needle reuse. The used needles should be discarded into a tough plastic container for subsequent safe disposal.

  • When should I call / consult the doctor?

    Apart from routine consultation, you can call your doctor if you have any queries or doubts on Insulin use or if you have problems in using Insulin or when blood sugar is not under control.