Diabetic. Symptoms. Manage.

Are You Using Your Insulin Pen Right?

Article by Ken Chang

Insulin pens are increasingly being prescribed by doctors in Malaysia as it is the most direct way to manipulate the insulin level in diabetics. However, the right use of the insulin pen is vital to the efficacy of the treatment. Here are some of the things, insulin pen users should take note on.

No sharing of insulin pen

As insulin pen involves injection of the medication under the skin, it is prone to infectious disease if share. Blood borne disease such as hepatitis B and HIV may be transmitted if sharing of insulin pen is practiced. So it is  vital that no person should be sharing insulin pen even when they are prescribed the same type of insulin.

Remove the disposable needle from the insulin pen after using

After each injection, the disposable needle should be discarded to avoid air bubbles from entering the medicine. If this happened, the next dose may not be accurate as some of the volume of the medication is occupied by air bubbles.

Store insulin pen at correct temperature

For unused insulin pen, they should be stored in the fridge. However, for insulin pens which are to be used, they should be stored at room temperature as the extreme change of temperature may change the concentration of the insulin causing the dose to be varied. Once being stored in room temperature, each insulin pen can only last for 28 days. If any insulin is left behind after 28 days, it should be discarded.

Rotate the injection site

As insulin injections need to be done multiple times daily, it is incredibly important to rotate the site of injection to avoid lipohypertrophy. Lipohypertrophy occurs when the same site is repeated jabbed with the insulin needle, cause a lump to form of fatty tissues under the skin. As the fat tissue builds up under the skin, if the insulin injected on the same site, the insulin is not absorbed. Hence, causing a lower than the required dose of insulin being supplied to the body. This will ultimately, cause the high blood glucose level not be regulated and may increase the risk of high blood glucose related complications such as glaucoma, cardiovascular diseases, erectile dysfunction and event kidney failure.

In conclusion, it is important to use insulin pen correctly and store it at the right temperature to ensure the efficacy of the treatment.


1. Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Storing Insulin Looking after your Insulin and Injecting Devices. http://www.consumermedsafety.org/tools-and-resources/insulin-safety-center/insulin-pen-safety (accessed 24 Mar 2018).

2. InDependent Diabetes Trust. Storing Insulin Looking after your Insulin and Injecting Devices. https://www.iddt.org/about/living-with-diabetes/storing-insulin (accessed 24 Mar 2018).

3. Goldman-Levine J. Common Insulin Pen Errors: Diabetes Questions & Answers. https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/treatment-approaches/common-insulin-pen-errors-diabetes-questions-answers/ (accessed 24 Mar 2018).


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