How to give subcutaneous injections


Medicines you give just below the skin are called subcutaneous injections. These injections (shots) are given into fatty areas of the body called injection sites.

The nurse will show you the following steps and give you time to practice before you give a subcutaneous injection to your child.

Wash your hands

Getting ready

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry them well. Or, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. See “Do you know… Clean hands.”
  • Clean a workspace with an alcohol prep pad. Throw away the alcohol pad.
  • Gather the supplies and open them onto this workspace.

The supplies you need are:

  • Syringe ( ________ ml size) that contain the medicine to be given
  • Extra needle, BD Eclipse safety needle
  • 30 gauge (½ inch)
  • One 1ml Chloraprep® applicator (chlorhexidine gluconate 2% and isopropyl alcohol 70%)
  • Sterile gauze pad
Twist cap off needle
  • Twist the covered needle off the syringe. Twist the extra covered needle (30 gauge) onto the syringe. Place the syringe on the workspace.
  • Choose the injection site.
  • Open the Chloraprep applicator and remove it from the package. Do not touch the sponge tip.
  • Pinch the wings of the applicator to release the solution. You should hear a pop.

Giving the medicine

  • Press the Chloraprep on skin three times, then clean the area where the needle will be inserted using a circular pattern.
  • Clean the skin for 30 seconds, and then let the skin dry for 30 seconds. Do not blot or wipe. Do not blow on the cleaned skin. Let air dry.
subcutaneous injection
  • Pick up the syringe and pull back on the needle’s safety cover toward the syringe. Pull the needle cap straight off the needle (do not twist). Set the cap aside.
  • Pinch the cleaned skin and fat between your thumb and first finger. Be careful not to touch the injection site itself.
  • Hold the syringe between the thumb and first finger of the other hand. Insert the needle into the skin quickly like a dart. The quicker you insert the needle, the less it hurts. The needle can go straight into the pinched skin, or at an angle.
subcutaneous injections
  • Gently pull back on the plunger just a little to check for blood in the syringe. Note: Do not pull back on the plunger to check for blood when giving anticoagulants such as heparin or enoxaparin, or when giving insulin.
  • If you see blood in the syringe, remove the needle from the skin and throw away the syringe and needle. You will need to start over again.
subcutaneous injection
  • If you do not see blood, gently push on the plunger until all the medicine is injected.
cover with gauze
  • Take the needle and syringe out. Cover the site with the gauze.
  • Do not recap the needle. Instead, use the safety cover right away. Using the same hand that is holding the syringe, place your thumb on the finger pad area of the safety cover. Push the cover forward over the needle until you hear or feel it lock. Place the needle and syringe into a patient sharps container. See “Do you know… Throwing away sharp objects safely.” Dispose of other supplies in the regular trash.
  • Clean your hands again after throwing away used supplies.

Injection sites

The usual injection sites are:

  • Back of the upper arms,
  • Thighs, and
  • Abdomen (except for the navel and the waistline).

Rotating the sites is important so that the fat areas do not get irritated and scarred.

injection sites on arms
injections sites

Hints for germ free injections

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. See “Do you know… Clean hands.”
  • Do not use any medicine that has changed its color or has flakes or specks in it.
  • If a sterile syringe part is touched, do not use it. Change the un-sterile part for a sterile part, or start over again.


If you have any questions or concerns, please call 901-595-3300 and ask for your child’s primary clinic. If you are calling after hours or on the weekend, ask for the nursing coordinator. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.


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.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).