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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 or the blood-thinner enoxaparin (Lovenox), 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 call line 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 can you care for yourself at home?

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.

Giving the shot

  1. Gather 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. A shot in the belly should be at least 5 centimetres off to the side of your belly button.
  4. Use alcohol to clean the skin before you give the shot. Let it dry.
  5. Remove the cap from the needle. Hold the syringe like a pencil close to the site, keeping your fingers off the plunger.
  6. Slightly pinch a fold of skin between your fingers and thumb of one hand.
  7. Most doctors recommend placing the syringe at a 90-degree angle to the shot site, standing straight up from the skin.
  8. Quickly push the needle all the way into the pinched-up fold of skin.
  9. Push the plunger of the syringe all the way in so the medicine goes into the fatty tissue.
  10. 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. Let go of the skin fold.
  12. If you bleed a little, apply pressure over the shot area with your finger, a cotton ball, or a piece of gauze. To help avoid bruising, don't rub the area.
  13. Dispose of the needle safely. Don't use the same needle more than one time.
  14. 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 call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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