Can you use an Insulin Needle more than Once?
If you have diabetes and need to inject insulin, you may wonder if you can reuse your insulin needles. Some people may want to reuse their needles for convenience or to save money. However, reusing insulin needles is not recommended for several reasons. Here are some of the risks and drawbacks of reusing insulin needles.
Risk of infection
Insulin needles are designed for single use only and should be disposed of safely after each injection. Reusing insulin needles can increase the risk of bacterial growth on the needle, which can lead to infection or contamination. Bacteria can come from your skin, the environment, or the insulin itself. Even if you clean the needle with alcohol, it may not be enough to kill all the bacteria. Infection can cause serious complications such as abscesses, cellulitis, or sepsis.
Risk of lipohypertrophy
Lipohypertrophy is a condition where lumps or bumps form under the skin due to repeated injections in the same area. These lumps can affect the absorption of insulin and make it harder to control your blood sugar levels. Reusing insulin needles can increase the risk of lipohypertrophy because the needle tip becomes dull and damaged after each use. This can cause more trauma to the skin and tissue, leading to inflammation and scarring.
Risk of pain and bleeding
Reusing insulin needles can also make your injections more painful and cause more bleeding. This is because the needle tip becomes bent and blunt after each use, making it harder to penetrate the skin smoothly. A dull needle can also cause more damage to the blood vessels and nerves under the skin, resulting in bruising and nerve pain.
Effect on blood sugar control
Reusing insulin needles may not affect your blood sugar control significantly if you do it only a few times. However, if you reuse your needles more than three times, it may affect your glycaemic control negatively. This is because the needle tip can become clogged with dried insulin or skin cells, reducing the amount of insulin that is delivered with each injection. A study found that reusing insulin needles up to six times did not affect glycaemic control significantly, but to achieve target HbA1c (<7.5%), the needle reuse should be restricted to three times only.
Reusing insulin needles is not a good practice and should be avoided as much as possible. It can increase the risk of infection, lipohypertrophy, pain, bleeding, and poor blood sugar control. You should always use a new needle for every injection and dispose of it safely in a sharps container. This will help you prevent complications and maintain optimal health. If you have any questions or concerns about your insulin injections, talk to your doctor for advice.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456