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Subcutaneous Injection
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Subcutaneous Injection Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


A subcutaneous (sub-Q) injection is a shot that delivers medicine into the layer of fat between the skin and the muscle. This type of injection can be given by a healthcare professional, or a patient can self-inject.

Body Tissue Layers
Body Tissue Layers
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Injection Sites
Injection Sites
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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. Dry with a clean towel.
  • Select a site. Cleanse the area (about 2 inches) with a fresh alcohol wipe.
  • 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.
  • Hold the syringe the way you would a pencil or dart. Insert the needle at about a 45 degree angle to the pinched-up skin. (The needle should be completely covered by skin.).
  • Slowly push the plunger all the way down to inject the medicine.
  • Remove the needle from the skin.
  • If there is bleeding at the site of injection, apply a bandage.
  • Immediately put the syringe and needle into a container that is puncture-proof.
  • Find out what services are available in your area for disposing of biological waste.

General Injection Tips

  • Change your injection site in a regular pattern.
  • Give new injections at least 1.5 inches away from the last injection site.

Will It Hurt?

The needles for sub-Q injection are very thin and short, so pain is usually minimal. You may have some soreness later.

Tips for Minimizing Injection Pain

  • Inject medicine that is at room temperature.
  • Remove all air bubbles from the syringe before injection.
  • Break through the skin quickly.
  • Do not change the direction of the needle as it goes in or comes out.
  • Do not reuse disposable needles.



National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: National Institutes of Health

NIH Clinical Center


Cancer Care Ontario


Health And Human Services. Selecting, evaluating, and using sharps disposal containers website. Available at: . Accessed October 23, 2007.

How do I administer Lovenox? The Children’s Hospital (Denver, CO) website. Available at: . Accessed on October 23, 2007.

Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center website. Available at: . Accessed October 23, 2007.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: . Accessed October 14, 2005.



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