A subcutaneous (SQ) injection is a shot where the needle goes into the fat layer between the skin and the muscle to deliver a certain amount of medicine. (Sub=below, cutaneous=skin) This type of injection can either be given by a health care professional, or a patient can self-inject.
Parts of the Body Involved
These injections must be given on a part of the body that contains enough of a fat layer to easily deliver the medicine into the correct area.
Outer surface of the upper arm
Top of the thighs
Abdomen, except the navel or waistline
Reasons for Procedure
Subcutaneous injections are a relatively convenient way to deliver medication that would otherwise be absorbed too slowly or made ineffective if taken by mouth. Examples include:
Insulin injections for people with diabetes
Epinephrine injections for people with severe allergic reactions
Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure
Allergy to administered medication. Otherwise, no serious complications are expected.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure ?
Make sure you have all of the items you will need easily available: syringe, medicine, cleaning materials, etc.
Wash hands with warm, soapy water prior to giving the injection and dry with a clean towel
Select a site and cleanse the area (about 2 inches) with a fresh alcohol pad or a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.
Wait for the site to dry.
Giving the Subcutaneous Injection ?
Remove the needle cap
Pinch a 2-inch fold of skin between your thumb and index finger
Holding the syringe the way you would a pencil or dart, insert the needle at a about a 45 degree angle to the pinched-up skin (the needle should be completely covered by skin)
Hold the syringe with one hand. With the other, pull back the plunger to check for blood
If you see blood in the solution in the syringe, do not inject (withdraw the needle and start again at a new site)
If you do not see blood, slowly push the plunger all the way down to inject the medicine
Remove the needle from the skin and gently hold an alcohol pad on the injection site. Do not rub
If there is bleeding, apply a bandage
Immediately put the syringe and needle into the proper disposal container Ideally, this should be a ?sharps box? that you can purchase from local pharmacists.
However, you can also use a sealed coffee can or leak-proof, closable milk jug, as long as it is a puncture-proof disposal container. You will need to find out what services are available in your area for the proper disposal of biological waste.
Will It Hurt?
The needles for this injection just below the skin are very thin and short, so pain is usually minimal.
Tips for Minimizing Injection Pain ?
Inject medicine that is at room temperature
Remove all air bubbles from the syringe before injection
Wait until the topical alcohol has evaporated before injecting
Keep muscles in the injection area relaxed
Break through the skin quickly
Don?t change the direction of the needle as it goes in or comes out
Do not reuse disposable needles
Possible Complications ?
If blood is in the solution, you will need to try injecting at another site.
You may have some bleeding, soreness or redness at the site
Allergic reaction to the medication (never administer medications that you may be allergic too)
General Injection Tips ?
Rotate your injection site in a regular pattern
Give new injections at least 1.5 inches away from the last injection
Do not use the abdomen as an injection site if you are very thin
You should expect the medicine to work in the prescribed way
Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs
You are unable to give yourself the injection
The injection site continues to bleed
There is a lot of pain
You inject the medicine into the wrong area
You get a rash around the injection site
You develop a fever or experience signs of allergic reaction
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: National Institutes of Health
NIH Clinical Center
Health And Human Services: Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers webiste. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/sharps1.html. Accessed October 14, 2005.
Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center website. Available at: http://www.hopkins-arthritis.som.jhmi.edu/corner/howtoinject.html. Accessed October 14, 2005.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/index.htm. Accessed October 14, 2005.