Insulin Safety Tips

If you need to inject insulin to manage your diabetes, take care of your insulin correctly. Ask your pharmacist how to safely store and use your insulin medicines. Follow these general tips from the American Diabetes Association:

  • Store insulin safely. Keep your extra bottles in the refrigerator, away from very hot or very cold temperatures. Never store insulin in the freezer or in direct sunlight. If you travel, don't put your insulin in the glove compartment or the trunk of a car, or in backpacks or bags that will be exposed to the sun. Special travel packs are available to keep insulin cool when traveling.

  • In general, after you open a bottle, don’t keep it for more than 28 days. The cartridges of some insulin pens may need to be thrown away sooner if kept at room temperature. But some insulin pens can be kept at room temperature for up to 42 days. Check the product insert or ask the pharmacist about your specific pen.

  • Before you open a new bottle, check the date that is printed on it. Don't use the insulin if it is past its expiration date. Look at the insulin in the bottle. The insulin should look the same as it did the last time you used it. If it doesn't, then throw away the insulin. If the insulin is a new bottle, return the unopened bottle to the pharmacy.

You may have special needs, such as vision problems. These may make it hard to use your insulin safely. If so, tell your diabetes healthcare team and your pharmacist. They can suggest ways to help you safely manage your medicines.

Be aware that insulin syringes may be calibrated according to different concentrations in different countries. When traveling, try to bring your own syringes to match your own insulin. Even within a country, highly concentrated insulin preparations are on the market for people who need large amounts of insulin.

Have a plan to safely get rid of any needles and syringes used in your insulin injections. Check with your provider or pharmacist about syringe disposal programs in your area.

Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ronald Karlin MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2023
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