Subcutaneous injections:

Subcutaneous (sub-q) injections involve injecting a medication into the fatty tissue between the skin and muscle on various parts of the body. Sub-q injections are generally absorbed slower, over a period of 24 hours or more.

Use Insulin- or short (1.5-1 inch) needles to inject sub-q.

Subcutaneous Injection spots:

There are many places on the human body where sub-q shots are optimal. These specific areas usually have more body fat to make the shots easier to administer.

Upper Arm:

Identify the area in the middle part of the upper arm, halfway between the elbow and shoulder (tricep side). Keep arm relaxed and do not flex, this will loosen the skin. If you are able to grip 1-2 inches of skin, you may inject into the upper arm.

Very lean individuals may struggle to inject on the upper arm, since there won’t be a lot of body fat.


Identify a radius of roughly 25mm, or 1-inch, around the navel area. Grip a piece of skin between your thumb, and index and middle finger. The abdomen is notably easier to inject sub-q than any other areas on the body.


Identify the area between the knee and thigh on the outside of your leg. If you are able to grip 1-2 inches of skin, this may prove a convenient spot to inject sub-q.

Subcutaneous Injection guide:

  • Sub-q shots, just like IM-injections, are administered at a 90 degree angle. Sub-q shots may also be administered at a 45 degree angle. If there is ample skin at a selected location, use 90 degree angle. If you have low body fat or not enough skin, insert needle at 45 degrees.
  • Wipe the area where shot is to be administered with alcohol wipe.
  • Wipe the rubber stopper on the vial with another alcohol wipe.
  • Grasp and pinch the skin with your non-dominant hand. Holding the syringe with your dominant hand, insert the needle by moving the wrist. 
  • Once the needle is all the way in, push the plunger down to inject the medicine.
  • Remove the needle at the same angle you put it in.
  • Use an alcohol wipe to press gently on the place where the needle went in.
Credit: Rosswel Park Patient Education

About Author