Health Library

Insulin: Reusing Syringes Safely

Topic Overview

Some people with diabetes use their insulin syringes more than once to save money. Talk with your doctor before reusing your syringes. Some people who have diabetes should not reuse their syringes, including people who have:

  • Trouble seeing clearly.
  • Trouble using their hands.
  • Infections or open wounds.

Some precautions to take if you reuse syringes:

  • Put the cover back on the needle after use. The safest way to do this is to place the cover and syringe on a flat surface and slide the cover over the needle without letting the needle touch either the flat surface or your fingers. Only the inside of the cover should touch the needle. Do not hold the syringe straight up; you may accidentally stick yourself.
  • Do not clean the needle with alcohol. Alcohol removes the silicone covering on the needle, causing it to become dull.
  • Store the syringes at room temperature. It is best to store them with the covered needle pointing up to prevent insulin from blocking the needle opening.

Dispose of reused syringes in safe containers when:

  • The shot hurts when you use the syringe.
  • The needle becomes dull. Needles usually are dull after being used more than 5 times.
  • The needle is bent or has touched something other than your skin.
  • You notice redness or signs of infection at the place where you have given the shot. Let your doctor know if you have an infection.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Last Revised July 19, 2011

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