Health Topics

Subcutaneous (Sub-Q) Injections

Some medications work best when they are given into subcutaneous tissue. A subcutaneous tissue is the fatty layer of tissue just under the skin. Giving medicines this way is sometimes called “Sub-Q” injection. The medication is absorbed slowly when it is given this way. There are several different devices used to give a Sub-Q injection. All of the devices use a small, short needle.

Types of Devices

  • Syringe and vial
  • Pen device

When a child first begins getting injections, he / she might be scared. Sub-Q injections can cause discomfort for a few seconds, but as your technique improves, and the child gets used to the shots, they will become less painful. There are several ways you can decrease the discomfort your child feels during the injection.

  • Test the areas of the skin by pressing gently to see where he / she is less sensitive.
  • Rotate the site where you give the injection (see chart below). Keep track of the sites used. If injections will be given for a length of time, it is best to set up an injection site rotation pattern and be sure sites are at least 1 inch apart.
  • Distract your child while the injection is happening. For instance, allow him / her to watch television, sing, look at a book, etc.
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Needed Supplies

Medication with Syringe and Needle

Preparing a Pen Device

Selecting an Injection Site

Injecting Medication

Disposal of Needles and Syringes


Last Updated: 06/2012