Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Peptides can treat many conditions. They may improve recovery from injury and wound healing and decrease joint and muscle pain. Peptides are often used in skin care to help repair, hydrate, and calm your skin. They are also used to help decrease inflammation, improve sex drive, and enhance memory.
When it comes to peptide injections, subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle) injections are the most effective. This is because peptides are easily broken down and destroyed by your stomach enzymes. This means that if you take most peptides orally (by mouth), you may lose most of their benefits because the peptides will be destroyed before they can reach your bloodstream.
In the beginning, giving yourself a peptide injection at home may seem confusing or difficult. But with some practice, giving yourself a peptide injection can be quick and easy. Let’s take a look at the different types of injections used to give peptide injections and how to best give them to yourself.
How do you give subcutaneous and intramuscular injections?
Intramuscular injections are given into a muscle that has a blood supply. This allows peptides to be absorbed faster than they would be by the subcutaneous route. Intramuscular injections require a needle around 1 inch long for most adults. The correct needle length is determined by the patient’s size, age, and the amount of fat tissue in the chosen injection site. This length allows the peptides to pass through the different skin and fat layers but not too long to risk hitting underlying nerves and bone.
The thickness of the needle is measured in millimeters and is referred to as the “gauge .” Needle gauges for intramuscular injections typically range between 22 and 25 gauge. A good way to remember needle width is the higher the gauge number, the finer or thinner the needle.
Intramuscular peptide injections should be given so that the needle enters your body at a 90-degree angle. This means it should be a straight injection, not at an angle. Intramuscular injections are given in the outside of the upper arm, in the hip, in the buttocks, or in the thigh.
Subcutaneous injections aren’t injected as deep as intramuscular injections. These injections are given in the layer of fat between your skin and muscle. This area is not as richly supplied with blood vessels as are your muscles. Peptides given by the subcutaneous route are absorbed more slowly than with intramuscular injections.
The needle length and needle insertion angle depend on a person’s weight and amount of subcutaneous tissue. Subcutaneous injections can be given so that the needle enters your body at a 45 or 90-degree angle. The needle can be inserted at a 90-degree angle across pinched skin for people with a significant amount of fatty tissue. For those with minimal fatty tissue, the needle should be inserted at a 45-degree angle across pinched skin.
Subcutaneous injections are given in the back of the upper arm, in your stomach, or in the thigh. Whether you’re giving yourself an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, it’s best to alternate where you inject your peptides with each dose. Try to avoid giving yourself an injection in the same place twice in a row.
Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about which needle length and gauge will work best for your peptide injections.
How do I draw up the peptides into the syringe?
Before giving yourself a peptide injection, gather all the supplies you’ll need. This may include syringes, needles, alcohol pads, and a sharps container (a hard, plastic container that stores used needles and syringes). Here’s a list of steps to follow:
- Wash your hands.
- Check your medication. Make sure the medication name on the vial matches the medication name on the prescription label. Make sure the medication isn’t expired.
- If this is your first time using the vial, remove the plastic top. Throw the plastic top away. A rubber stopper will be under the plastic top. Clean the rubber stopper with an alcohol pad.
- Keeping the syringe cap on the needle, pull back the plunger on the syringe to add the same amount of air as the dose of your peptide injection into the syringe. For example, if you’re injecting 0.25 mL of Ipamorelin/ CJC 1295, fill the syringe with 0.25 mL of air.
- Remove the cap from the needle. Insert the needle into the top of the vial and inject the air. This added air will make it easier to remove the peptides from the vial. Leave the needle in the vial.
- Hold the vial with one hand and the syringe with the other hand. Turn the vial and syringe upside down, and draw out the amount needed for your dose. If you accidentally draw up too much, gently push on the plunger to push the liquid back into the vial.
- With the needle still in the vial, check for air bubbles inside the syringe. If you see air bubbles, gently tap on the side of the syringe to make the air bubbles rise to the top. Slowly push on the plunger to push the air bubbles into the vial.
- Remove the needle from the vial.
You’re now ready to inject your peptides.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Vaccine Administration.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Vaccine administration: Needle gauge and length.
Review All References
Kovalainen, M., et al. (2015). Novel delivery systems for improving the clinical use of peptides. Pharmacological Reviews.
MedlinePlus. (2020). Drawing medicine out of a vial. National Library of Medicine.
MedlinePlus. (2020). Giving an IM (intramuscular) injection. National Library of Medicine.
MedlinePlus. (2019). Subcutaneous (SQ) injections. National Library of Medicine.
Minnesota Department of Health. (2019). Needle gauge resource list.
National Institutes of Health. (2012). Patient education. Giving a subcutaneous injection.
The University of Texas at Austin. (n.d.). Sharps safety.
Usach, I., et al. (2019). Subcutaneous injection of drugs: Literature review of factors influencing pain sensation at the injection site. Advances in Therapy.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2021). Sharps disposal containers.
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