Overcoming Your Fears of Self-Injection

9 Ways to Make Self-Injections Easier

Self-injection therapies are a safe and effective way to manage a variety of health conditions from diabetes to autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic disease. It's perfectly normal to feel nervous around needles. In fact, most people are uncomfortable the minute their doctor starts talking about treatments requiring self-injection. But this fear should not stop you from getting the necessary treatment you need.

If your doctor has prescribed self-injection therapy, here are nine ways you can manage fears of self-injection. 

Tips for Overcoming Fear of Self-Injection
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
1

Ask About an Autoinjector

Many injections are available as subcutaneous auto-injectors. That means they can easily be injected under the skin and are a lot easier to use than a needle and vial. 

While most people find auto-injectors easy to ease, there is going to be a learning curve. But you will have plenty of resources, including your doctor’s office, videos, and written instructions from drug manufacturers on learning how to use an auto-injector. 

These pens are designed with ease in mind and only require a few steps. What’s more is that when you get better at using an auto-injector, the process will be relatively pain-free.

2

Ask for Help

Before you give yourself an injection, you will want to learn the right way to prepare your medication and how to give yourself the injection. Consider asking your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to show you what to do.

If you find it easier for someone else to give you injections, ask a loved one for help. That person should go with you to the next doctor’s appointment so they can learn the correct way to give injections.

You may also want to connect with others living with the same health condition via online or in-person support groups. These people can help share ideas and words of encouragement to help ease anxiety related to self-injection.

3

Keep Practicing

In addition to teaching how to properly and safely inject medications, your doctor’s office can also provide tools for practicing at home, including empty syringes and auto-injectors. Practicing at home can help you gain confidence and make self-injection much easier.

One 2017 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, reported differences in the comfort level of 60 adolescents with self-injection. The teens were split into two randomized groups. The first group was given supervised and guided self-injection using a needle and empty syringe and the second group was given education with no practice using a real-life needle.  Researchers measured the comfort levels of the two groups using questionnaires.

What the study found was that the group who had real experience with self-injection felt more comfort and confidence with injection and had less worry and anxiety than the group who was not given the opportunity to practice self-injection.  

4

Find Ways to Relax

When people get nervous about something, they will hold their breath, or their breathing becomes shallow. When giving yourself an injection, it is a good idea to pay attention to your breathing.

Take deep breaths while giving yourself the injection. Breathing will help you to stay calm and relaxed while you administer the medication. 

5

Numb the Injection Site

If are worried about pain and discomfort during the injection, take some time to numb the area before injecting. One of the easiest ways to do this is with an ice cube. You can also use a topical anesthetic cream containing lidocaine or prilocaine to numb the injection site.

Another option is trying a tool called Buzzy that combines ice and vibrations to overwhelm nerve signals from being sent to the brain. Pain signals are dulled because the body has too much going on to single out and focus on the pain. Buzzy is usually marketed to parents and pediatric medical providers, but anyone can use it.  

6

Allow the Medication to Warm Up

If your medications must be refrigerated, take them out at least 30 minutes before the injection. Allow the medication to reach room temperature to avoid adverse reactions, such as site injection bruising and soreness. Injection site reactions are common when a cold drug goes into the body. To warm up the medicine quickly, hold under your arm for a few minutes. 

7

Rotate Injection Sites

To limit pain, bruising, and scarring, don’t give the injection in the same place every time. Instead, rotate injection sites regularly.  Each time, you should be at least an inch or two away from the previous injection site. A calendar or smartphone can help keep track of injection sites.

For most injections, you will be instructed to inject the medication into a subcutaneous layer of fat—a layer of fat just below the skin. Subcutaneous layers include the middle part of the abdomen, top of the thighs, and outer surface of the upper arm.

When injecting in the abdomen, avoid the bellybutton and waistline areas. Stay away from body areas with scar tissue, stretch marks, visible blood vessels and any areas that are tender, red, or bruised. 

8

Make Sure You Are Comfortable

It is important to feel comfortable when giving yourself an injection. Try to administer your medication in a stress-free environment and at a time you will not be interrupted. You should also wear comfortable clothing to give you easy access to the injection site. 

9

Ask About a Shield

A shield hides the needle during injection and prevents accidental needle sticks. It goes around the needle and screws into the syringe in the way the needle would. Auto-injector pens generally have shields, which keeps the needle from view and helps to prevent accidental injections.

A Word From Verywell

If you are still anxious about self-injection, take a moment to remind yourself why you are doing this. Your health is important and the medication you are injecting should help you feel better and stronger. Even if injecting yourself still seems scary or uncomfortable, it is well worth the effort and time you put into getting comfortable and doing it right. 

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