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Subcutaneously (SC)

The subcutaneous route is used for a slow, sustained absorption of medication, up to 1-2ml being injected into the subcutaneous tissue. It is ideal for drugs which require a slow and steady release, and as it is relatively pain free, it is suitable for frequent injections.

Subcutaneous administration means ‘under the skin.’ In this method a drug is injected into the fatty tissues just under the skin. This route may be less effective or less useful if larger amounts of a drug are being injected.

The skin should be pinched up to lift the adipose (loose) tissue away from the underlying muscle, especially in thin people.

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This method may not be so effective if large amounts of drugs are being used. This route can still lead to greatly increased drug potency relative to the oral routes as the GI tract and first pass metabolism are still both bypassed.

Diabetics administer their insulin in this way, without changing sites they will experience hard lumps under the skin after a time. Insulin is developed to be administered this way, street drugs and illegal drugs are not.  Taking care to change sites and checking sites are both important.  Injections should be given at a 90 degree angle.

It is no longer necessary to aspirate after needle insertion before injecting subcutaneously.

Traditionally s/c injections have been given at a 45 degree angle into a raised skin fold, however with the introduction of shorter insulin needle the recommendation is now 90 degrees.