Did you ever notice lumps on your injection sites? If so, are you still injecting in these areas?
Repetitive injections of insulin in the same area cause these lumps (also known as Lipohypertrophy – short name “lipos”).
The skin starts to develop extra tissue that can grow overtime due to constant “harm” of the skin in the same site.
When injecting insulin in a lipo, the insulin will be stuck in there – like a rubber ball – and won’t be released in the body as it should.
Insulin will accumulate inside this rubber ball and will have impact on the blood glucose once it won’t get as lower as expected.
The opposite can also occur. Following a quick/slight movement, the accumulated insulin would be released in one go into the body causing an abrupt drop on the blood glucose level or even unexpected/unexplained hypoglycaemia.
That’s why it is important to pay attention to your injection sites and keeping them healthy.
Here are 5 tips to keep your injection sites healthy and your blood glucose under control.
1. Rotate injection sites
This is a must in order to make sure that your insulin dose is being absorbed properly and avoid lipos.
Keep rotating your injections within the same area for a week, as shown in the image below (left/right abdominal or left/right thigh), and then start injections in other area.
By following this practice you will remember where you have injected the last dose of insulin and inject the coming doses in a different place.
Thinking as a calendar with the days draw on your injection area, each day is one injection. Each injection should be at least 1cm apart from the previous one.
2. Check your injection areas
Physical exam of the injection areas is very important.
Lipos can be detected just looking at your injections areas and find any type of surface deformity.
You will be able to feel the lumps by massaging/palpating gently these areas using your fingertips with some cream.
Always talk with your diabetes nurse or your doctor in case of doubt.
3. Avoid lumpy (“lipo”) areas
If you know that you have lumps on your most common injection areas give time to these areas to heal and do your injections in less used areas.
4. One needle – one injection
Some studies have shows that reusing needles for insulin injections can induce the development of lipos.
When leaving your needles on the pen, apart from the risk of increasing the chance of air coming inside the pen associated with the risk of infection and the blockage of the needle, reusing needles will also change the needle shape (microscopically) and this will damage the skin.
5. Needle size
The proper needles’ size is from 4mm to 6mm. Insulin only needs to go under your skin, into the fatty tissue.
Your skin layer is normally around 2mm thick and using needles with the referred size is enough to reach the fatty tissue and would prevent injections in inappropriate places, such as muscles.
As you can understand, Lipos and insulin therapy relationship is a very important matter to keep in mind because it impacts your diabetes management in very unexpected ways.
Are you following these tips in your daily injection routines?