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How to Give a Subcutaneous Shot: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A subcutaneous (say "sub-kyoo-TAY-nee-us") shot is an injection of medicine under the skin, but not in a muscle. Some medicines, such as insulin and some kinds of blood-thinners, are injected only under the skin. This type of shot is usually given in the belly or the thigh.

At first, you may be nervous about giving yourself a shot. But soon, giving the shot will become routine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you give yourself a subcutaneous shot?

Follow your health professional's instructions for where and how often to inject your medicine. Your nurse will show you how to give yourself the shot.

  1. Gather your equipment.

    This includes your syringe (containing medicine) and an alcohol wipe or a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.

  2. Wash your hands with soap and running water.

    Dry them well.

  3. Choose a spot on your belly or thigh for the shot.
    Injection sites in belly and outside thigh in men and in women

    A shot in the belly should be 5 centimetres away from your belly button.

  4. Use alcohol to clean the skin.

    Let it dry.

  5. Remove the cap from the needle.
  6. Hold the syringe like a pencil close to the site.

    Keep your fingers off the plunger.

  7. Slightly pinch a fold of skin at the spot you chose.
    Skin pinch at injection site on the belly

    Pinch it between the fingers and thumb of one hand.

  8. Place the syringe at a 90-degree angle to the shot site.
    Needle in pinched skin 2 inches from belly button

    The needle should stand straight up from the skin.

  9. Quickly push the needle all the way into the pinched-up fold of skin.
  10. Push the plunger of the syringe all the way in.
    Needle through skin in subcutaneous tissue, not into muscle

    This allows the medicine to go into the fatty tissue. Be sure to hold the skin fold as you give the shot. This will help make sure that you don't inject the medicine into muscle.

  11. Take the needle out at the same angle that you inserted it.
  12. Let go of the skin fold.
  13. If you bleed a little, apply pressure over the shot area.

    You can use your finger, a cotton ball, or a piece of gauze. To help avoid bruising, don't rub the area.

  14. Dispose of the needle safely.
    Putting syringe with needle into sharps container

    Don't use the same needle more than one time.

Slightly change the spot where you give the shot each time you do it.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.