Ease the Pain of Insulin Injections

Got first-shot fears? Ease apprehension (yours and your child's) and reduce the pain with these tried-and-true tips.

Do a Trial Injection

Do a trial run on an orange or a washcloth. This lets you prepare your child's injection site, know what it feels like to give a shot, and to hear what it sounds like when the needle enters the peel or fabric. Be sure to place the washcloth on a table or other surface (don't balance it on your leg or other body part, for instance,) and then toss the orange in the garbage or the washcloth in the laundry when you're done.

Use a Numbing Cream

Consider numbing creams. Ask your doctor about EMLA, a prescription numbing cream. Offering this option gives your child some control, says David Repaske, M.D., Ph.D., chief of endocrinology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. On the downside, Dr. Repaske says, the cream is expensive and takes 30 minutes to become fully effective--an inconvenience that often outweighs the prick of a needle.

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Just Add Ice

For a no-cost and quick alternative to creams, numb skin with an ice cube, suggests Dr. Repaske. Have your child apply the cube for a few seconds, then sterilize the site with an alcohol swab.

Load Practice Syringes with Saline Solution

Practice on a willing friend, family member, or doctor. "I have my patients give the shot to me," says Richard Levy, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. You'll want to experience pushing the plunger of the syringe and delivering a dose without the pressure of giving real medicine.

Don't use water, Dr. Levy says--it stings. Ask your pharmacist for a sterile vial of saline solution, also called sodium chloride. And be sure to use a clean needle and discard the used one in a sharps container when you're done.

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Consider an Insulin Pen

If you or your child takes only one kind of insulin at a time, you may prefer using an insulin pen. With a pen, there's no syringe and you don't have to watch the needle enter the skin, which may reduce your shot anxiety. One press of the dosing knob inserts the needle and delivers the insulin.

Is an Insulin Pen Right For You?

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