Insulin Site Rotation

Many people with diabetes keep a food diary
Many people with diabetes keep a food diary

If you have to start injecting, you are told to rotate your sites. A site is the place you put your injection in. The idea is not to use the same site too often.

Rotating where you test from

Therefore, you should consider using a system whereby you maybe either rotate clockwise around your stomach so that each injection is at least an inch away from the last one - hey, go anti-clockwise sometimes, what the heck!

Or rotate around your legs, arms, stomach and (for some of us old-timers, we were told to use our ‘upper, outer buttock region as well, if you can still reach them - this area tends not to get include much these days, but still a viable option). 

Does injecting insulin hurt?

It sounds easy enough, but there are issues with site rotation when you have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes.

For example, with modern needles being as tiny as they are, and often entirely painless, it’s possible to completely forget where you injected.

We all do it once in a while - non diabetics never understand it, but once you’ve clocked up a few hundred injections. 5 a day for just 40 days - each individual one is less likely to stick in your memory.

In the ‘old days’, with bigger needles, an injection would leave a mark and you could see where you had your last injection. Not these days - thankfully.

Top tips & Things to watch out for with Insulin Site Rotation

  • On two insulins? Keep the sites separate. You might want to do short-acting insulins in your tummy (easier to access at meal times) and your long-acting insulins in your legs or arms. That way the long-acting can’t induce a longer action on your short-acting.
  • Lumps? These form when you use the same site over and over again. Lumps is not a very technical term, your diabetes team will call them lipos, short for lipoatrophy – the localized loss of fat tissue due to injecting insulin into the same place often. They can look both like lumps or hollows.
  • Loss of feeling? Just try to notice if that’s happening, because if it is, you may well be tempted to keep injecting into that site as you can’t feel it, but you won’t be doing you or your skin any favours and your insulin absorption rates are likely to be affected and that will adversely affect your diabetes control.
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