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Insulin: Reusing Syringes and Lancets Safely

Topic Overview

Some people with diabetes use their insulin syringes and lancets more than once to save money. But makers of syringes and lancets do not recommend using them more than once. Talk with your doctor before reusing these items. Some people who have diabetes should not reuse their syringes or lancets, including people who have:

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

Some precautions to take if you reuse syringes or lancets:

  • 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 or lancet 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 and lancets in safe containers when:

  • The shot or prick hurts when you use the syringe or lancet.
  • The needle or lancet becomes dull. Needles usually are dull after being used more than 5 times.
  • The needle or lancet 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 signs of an infection.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised July 11, 2013

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