I’ve been on a pump-vacation for a few weeks, and as I start to return to the “old habits” of multiple daily injections, I was reminded of this old conundrum: Do you inject insulin through clothing?
In 2013 I wrote this piece for Diabetes Mine on the topic. And the basic conclusion was, “Can’t see much harm.” Even though the one study on the topic was small. From the article:
The only official study on this practice dates back to 1997, when some researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit did a study on the subject. Published in the American Diabetes Association’s journal Diabetes Care, the study involved 50 PWDs, and 41 of those people completed the study, doing a total of 13,720 injections. The data found that injecting through clothing was a “rogue” technique, but concluded that it was indeed “safe and convenient.” None of the PWDs experienced problems at the injection sites, and only minor problems like blood stains on clothing and bruising, were recorded in their logbooks. Most of the people reported that injection through clothing offered benefits such as convenience and saving time (no kidding!).
Still, that study was done 15 years ago. And it also came at a time before insulin pumps were as mainstream as they are today, so people weren’t doing “multiple daily injections” the way they are today; the practice then was more likely two or three shots a day of an insulin mix.
For the article I also interviewed Larry Hirsch at BD (the needle-makers). His basic advice was “don’t do it.”
According to Dr. Larry Hirsch, the Vice President of Global Medical Affairs for Diabetes Care Business Unit at BD, the makers of many of the insulin syringes and pen needles used in the U.S., “hurt” is precisely why he thinks that injecting through clothing is a bad idea.
“When you inject this way you are blunting the needle and making it more resistant to glide through your skin and fat,” he said. “These needles were designed for injecting through the skin and we believe it’s the most appropriate way for them to be used.”
Dr. Hirsch was also critical of the old (and tiny) study on this topic saying that needles have evolved and in 1997 we were using thicker needles that were less likely to bend when getting pushed through clothing.
So…do you do it? When you’re in a hurry, have clothing that’s all tucked-in, or just lazy?