9 Ways to Take the Sting Out of Self Injections

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Biologic therapy represents a new way to treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The good news is that biologics are designed to target specific components of the immune system. The bad news is that most of the time these medications are delivered through injections. If you are interested in biologic treatment, but are worried about the injections, read ahead for tips and tricks that can make them more manageable.

woman dancing while listening to headphones

Rock On

Music may help take the sting out of injections according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers looked at children who were receiving an IV and found that when music was being played, children experienced less stress and pain compared to the group without music. Healthcare providers also reported it was easier to perform the procedure in the group listening to music. This means there might be a double benefit for self-injections.

man applying ice pack to arm

Ice the Area

According to the Arthritis Foundation, it may help to ice the area before the injection. Just rub an ice cube on the skin until it becomes numb. Be sure to clean the area with alcohol before the injection.

Bring Medication to Room Temperature

Many medications need to be stored in a refrigerator. However, if the medication is brought to room temperature before injecting, it can be less painful. You can set the medication out in advance of the injection or place it against your skin for a few minutes to warm it up more quickly.

woman putting cream on arm

Use Numbing Cream

Numbing cream applied to the skin can help according to the Clinical Journal of Pain. In two studies evaluating the effects of topical anesthetics before injections in adolescents and adults, it was discovered that pain was lower in the groups using a topical anesthetic. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best cream to use.

Man administering self injection in stomach.

Switch up the Injection Location

Rotating the location of the injection can help prevent one area from becoming sore and irritated. Talk to your doctor about the choices you have for the injection site. Drug manufacturers may also have videos available to help you find alternative injection locations.

woman rubbing arm

Stroke the Skin Before the Injection

A study exploring the effects of stroking the skin close to the injection site before and during the injection. It was found that there was less pain when children received stroking compared to those who received no stroking. Pressure applied to the site before the injection has also been found to reduce pain in adults undergoing injections.

Young woman giving herself an injection in her abdomen.

Inject Quickly

The speed of injection can make a difference in the level of discomfort. In at least one study, it was found that vaccines given rapidly reduced the pain. You can ask your doctor if there is any disadvantage to injecting your particular medication quickly.

Eat a Piece of Candy

There is some evidence that taking in a sweet-tasting solution before and during the injection can reduce the pain of the injection. This research was done with over 800 infants. The infants who took in sucrose two minutes before the injection saw less distress than those without the sucrose. Therefore, it may be worth it to try to eat a piece of candy just before the injection.

Woman putting an ice pack on her shoulder

Use a Cold or Warm Compress Afterward

Heat brings more blood to the area and can relax the surrounding muscles when it is applied. A cold compress can reduce swelling around the injection site. Different people have different preferences for whether heat or cold makes them feel better. Try experimenting after your injection with a hot or cold compress to see which brings you relief.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.