Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Tips to Help Reduce Injection Discomfort.

Tips to Help Reduce Injection Discomfort

Insulin is administered as an injection using either an insulin syringe or pen needle tip (a pen needle tip is attached to the top of an insulin pen).* One of the biggest fears of starting insulin therapy is the fear of injection pain. This article will provide tips to help reduce injection discomfort.

*Insulin may also be administered using a continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion device (insulin pump).

Tips to help reduce injection discomfort:

  • Needle Gauge

    1. Gauge describes the thickness of a needle. The larger the gauge the thinner the needle. Thinner needles usually cause less injection pain.
      • Common gauges: 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32
  • Needle length

    1. Insulin syringes and pen needle tips come in various lengths. Some people find that using a shorter needle helps to reduce injection discomfort. An insulin syringe or pen needle tip that is too long may increase the risk of intramuscular injection. Injecting insulin into the muscle causes more discomfort and alters that way insulin in absorbed (insulin should be injected into the subcutaneous tissue which is the area just beneath the skin).
      • Insulin syringe length options: 6 mm, 8 mm, 12.7 mm
      • Pen needle tip length options: 4 mm, 5 mm, 8 mm, 12.7 mm

For reference: 1 inch= 25.4 mm (millimeters)

  • Use an insulin pen instead of a syringe

    1. Use of an insulin pen allows the user to choose a shorter needle (either 4 mm or 5 mm).*

*For larger amounts of insulin, your physician may prefer that you use a longer needle to prevent insulin from leaking out of injection site.

  • Avoid injecting into muscle

    1. Injecting in to the muscle, as mentioned above, can increase injection discomfort. To avoid injecting into muscle:
      • Pinch up the skin at the injection site. This will help separate fat from muscle, helping to ensure that insulin is injected into the fat (not the muscle).
      • Ask your doctor about using a shorter needle (pen needle tips: 4mm or 5 mm; syringes: 6 mm).
  • Allow alcohol to dry before giving an injection

    1. Alcohol is commonly used to prepare the skin prior to giving an insulin injection. Allow insulin to air dry (don’t blow on the area) before injecting. This will help reduce injection pain/burning.
  • Use room temperate insulin

    1. Cold insulin may burn more than insulin stored at room temperature.
    2. Most insulins, once opened, are safe at room temperature for 28 days (check packet insert for storage information).
  • ALWAYS use a new needle

    1. Insulin syringes and insulin pen needle tips are for single-use. Old needles become dull and may increase injection pain. Using old needles may also increase the risk of infection.
  • Relax (I know this may be easier said than done!)

    1. Tensing up before giving an injection will likely cause more injection discomfort. Slowly inhaling and exhaling can help with relaxation.
  • Injection aid tools to help lessen injection discomfort:

    1. ShotBlocker by Bionix
      • “It’s a plastic disk with blunt points that, when pushed against the skin, send a sensory overload to the nerves so the pinch of an injection is dulled.” 1
    2. i-Port Advance by Medtronic
      • “It attaches to the skin with adhesive and, via an introducer needle, inserts a flexible cannula below the skin. This allows users to inject into the i-Port Advance itself, so a syringe or pen needle never touches their bodies.” 1
    3. Insulfon by intrapump
      • “Insuflon is a prescription-only soft cannula that users can wear to deliver their insulin via regular needles or insulin pens.” 1
    4. Buzzy by MMJ Labs
      • “This smiling, vibrating bug can dull the feeling of a needle when held to the skin before an injection.” 1

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Wahowiak L. (2017, March). 18 Products to Aid in Injecting Insulin. Diabetes Forecast The Healthy Living Magazine. Retrieved from