Alcohol Swabs and Injections

When I was first diagnosed, I was taught to wipe the top of the insulin bottle with an alcohol swab. I don’t use the swab on my skin before I inject. It recently occurred to me that maybe I should be doing this too. But old habits die hard. It’s funny how you get stuck doing things the way the nurse taught you on that first day…

What do you guys do? Alcohol swab on the bottle or inject site, or none at all?

I actually swab both the injection site and the top of the vial. I had a complication with an infection and really don’t want to repeat that if at all possible. No fun.

The infection wasnt injection related btw. Just precaution. Like the nurse said “Any opening in the skin…bla bla bla…” Yeah I’m not going there again. LOL

I never use alcohol swabs before injecting. It dries out your skin & doesn’t disinfect anyway. Something has to be submerged in alcohol for a long time to disinfect. Doctors & nurses know this, but they swab us because people expect it.

Since a quick wipe doesn’t do a thing, I don’t bother with swabbing vials either.

I stopped swabbing the bottle tops about 10 years ago, I think. I stopped using alcohol swabs altogether when I began pumping in 2000. I was using IV preps to make the skin sticky and the alcohol seemed like a useless step pre-IV prep. I haven’t bought a box since.

I’m still cleaning my vials with alcohol swabs and I pump. Not sure why come to think of it. Guess habit is a good excuse and I know where that vial has been.

I’ve never done either for injections. I don’t swab the vial to fill up my pump cartridges… however I do prep my pump sites, but that is mostly to ensure good adhesion (alcohol removes body oils) not for disinfecting.

As a paramedic I need to swab my patients with a betadine or alcohol swab prior to starting and IV or giving them any injection of medication as per our protocols using an aseptic technique, when injecting myself with insulin I never use a swab although I have them I just never have and never had a problem with infection, As for the swabbing the bottle tops only at work per protocols. PS your insulin pen is also a bottle with a top and its not a one time use. With my Job I cannot use an insulin pump while working so I have to resort to the pen or syringes when on the job days I get to enjoy the freedom of the pump on days off or vactions. By swabbing you are now also injecting a small amount of that under your skin.
Just My 2 cents

I would always wipe with swab pen and skin. But the diabetic sights have corrupted me. Since I found that no one else is doing it. I stopped. And they were getting so darn expensive.

As a 25-year insulin dependent diabetic I have poked myself with 10s of thousands of injections and finger sticks. I gave up on the isopropyl swab early on.

I did have one nasty infection, however, from an insulin pump infusion site that I inserted while in Costa Rica. I concluded from that experience that my infection was related to some bacteria from the tropics that my immune system was incapable of defending against. That incident did not motivate me to start using alcohol swabs again.

I think that washing your hands and injection site with warm soap and water is probably the best infection deterrent.

Q. Why can’t I wear a pump at work.
A. My job function may require me to submerge myself in water at a seconds notice to perform a rescue, I may also be required to be exposed to a chemical or biological atmospheres and cannot have an opening in my skin. I may be required to perform a confined space rescue with minimal clearances crawling down a long tube as my body drags across its surface. Are the pumps intrinsically safe for use in explosive atmospheres this needs to be guaranteed in writing as my pension rides on the issue

I’ve heard of paramedics who pumped on the conventional pumps. You could also opt to use a pump that’s approved for submersion and has no tubing, like the Omnipod. An insulin pump does not leave an opening in your skin any more than a syringe would. As far as hazmat and explosive atmospheres, I don’t know the answer to that. But my father has been a paramedic my whole life - I’ll ask for his input.

Melissa I also function as a Fire fighter and a Hazmat Tech so I am not limited to just being a Paramedic and I have had my job from before the time pumps where born or popular so when I asked about using them after a battle with my insurance company to get approval. I was confronted with a thousand questions from my employer as to the liability allot of what’s and if’s. I did not fight for the right to use a pump as I am just as comfortable with the pen or syringes and am more happy just doing my job then fighting a political battle if you know what I mean. I am also required to apply a bio occlusive dressing over my injection site prior to responding to calls.

That’s far more strenuous protocol than I’ve ever heard of. I’m sorry you have to dress the sites. That seems like overkill.

If you’re interested, I found this thread just now on a firefighters’ forum where people are discussing pros and cons of pumping, tubing, additional devices on the belt, insulin spoiling in the heat of a call, etc.

My dad is a fire captain, paramedic/EMT, etc. with hazmat training. I completely respect what you do. My dad has a couple melted helmets he always displayed proudly throughout my childhood. I have never thought about whether a pump could take the heat. I just know that many firefighting type 1s still opt to use them. The guys on that thread say they disconnect for blazes though.

Thanks Melissa I will check out the link, I just don’t like to make waves at work so I opted for what they were happy with maybe down the road I can try it again but I am 1 against many and I am always under the microscope anyways.

Dave I don’t make the rules or the protocols but if I want my to keep my job that I love I am required to follow them or lose my lively hood and join the ranks of the unemployed

i honestly don’t either. I find myself using the alcohol pads for emergency owies instead. I sometimes use neosporin with pain reliever or a alcohol pad with pain reliever after injecting when it stings a little.