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Basic Skills

Using an Insulin Pen

By in Basic Skills

Insulin pens are a convenient alternative for delivering insulin to using a vial and syringe.  Pens are pre-filled and disposable when they are empty.  Follow these steps to prepare your insulin pen for use.

Prepare the Insulin Pen

  1. Roll the pen (Only necessary if pre-mixed or NPH)
  2. Put on the pen needle. Remove outer and inner caps.
  3. Dial the pen to 2 units. Do a 2 unit “air shot” or priming the pen (You may need to do it more than once if you do not see insulin come out.)
  4. Dial the pen to the dose you need.

Inject the Insulin

  1. Choose an injection site where you have fatty tissue such as the belly, top of the thigh, back of the arm, side of the hips or buttocks area.  Rotate the site every time you inject.
  2. Pinch up the fatty area and push the needle straight into the skin, all the way in at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Press and hold the button with your thumb. Keep holding button for 5 seconds after the whole amount has gone in.  Let go of the pinch.
  4. Carefully take off the pen needle and put it in the sharps container.  Replace the outer cap.


Drawing Insulin From a Vial

Rotating Injection Sites

Smart Insulin Pens

What is a Pump?

Benefits of Pumps

Glucose Monitoring Options


Insulin Pens – ADA

Pro Tips (and Tricks) for Easier and Better Insulin Injections — AADE

Injection Aids – ADA

Reviewed by Angelina Bernier, MD, 3/6/19

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.