Self-injections 101

Overcoming the fear of self-injectionsPractice, practice, practice is the best way to learn how to give yourself an injection. Here are a few more tips that can make self-injections easier and reduce the chance of an injection site reaction:

Pick an easy injection site: The tops of thighs, the abdomen and the back of the arm are common injection sites. The key is to pick a place that is easy to see and easy to administer an injection, said Lakshi Aldredge, nurse practitioner at the Portland VA Medical Center in Oregon.

Rotate your injection sites. Aldredge recommends alternating injection sites from right to left. For example, if you prefer to inject your treatment in the top of your thigh, be sure to use the other thigh for your next injection. Then, use the right side of your abdomen the next time and switch to the left side after that. Rotating injection sites can help reduce injection site pain and soreness. It's also important to avoid an area with an active flare-up.

Numb the area. There are several ways you can reduce the sensitivity of the injection site. Cynthia Pickett, a physician's assistant with Texas Dermatology Associates, suggests deeply gripping the area you plan to inject and shaking it a bit. This provides the body with a different sensation that can distract you from the feeling of the needle going into your skin. Aldredge recommends placing an ice cube on the area five minutes before and after the injection –creating a sort of homemade anesthetic. Taking an over-the-counter pain medicine like Tylenol or ibuprofen can help, too.

Warm the pen up. Be sure to take your medication out of the refrigerator about a half hour before you plan to inject it. One of the most common causes of injection site reactions come from injecting a cold drug into your body, Pickett said. Ideally, it should be at room temperature. You also can warm up the injection pen by sticking it under your arm.

Be patient, be informed. One of the most common beginner mistakes people make is removing the injection pen before the needle is finished administering the drug. The result is medication running down your body instead of going inside your body, like it's supposed to.