Reuse Needles On Insulin Pen

Wondering if there is a practice of reusing the screw on needles for insulin pen’s as the needles are expensive and I’m going through them fast.

Would love to understand if you do this and if so how many times you reuse them? Do you use alcohol wipes, dip them in alcohol or just put the cap back on it until next use.


I am now on a pump but when I used pens there were times where id use needles more than once. I always removed it from the pen between uses. I used an alcohol swab to clean my injection site. The needle becomes less sharp I think with more uses so I wouldn’t do it too many times. I also would not use the same needle more than 24 hours. I was stuck a few times without packing enough needles and didn’t have a problem
Good luck!

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This image scared me out of it when I was a kid. I’d reuse a needle if the first attempt didn’t succeed for some reason (like I didn’t draw enough blood), but otherwise they went in the sharps container after every use.

Yikes! I switched to a pump over 20 years ago and used syringes (not pens) prior to that. At some point I did reuse the disposable syringes for several days. It became a bit more painful but I had no idea that’s his they looked as they degraded!

Now you know why it hurt more the longer you used them. When I was a vet tech one of my coworkers would use one needle to draw up a medication and then use a different need to actually administer the medication because he knew that even putting the needle through the rubber cap would degrade it and he didn’t want to hurt the animals more than necessary.

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I use each pen needle for one day; this means up to on average 4 injections. I leave the needle on the pen for that one day.
I wonder about the source authority of those photos in an earlier comment.

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hi @T1DSince1990 welcome to the forum. no, it is very unlikely that a single photo can capture or quantify the degradation of a single-use syringe needle, but it is easy to agree that reuse does eventually degrade the physical needle. There are plenty of studies from the CDC and from the NIH where it is reasonably demonstrated that the re-use of single-use needles increases incidences of injury and complications. Years ago, I manufactured needles for a large medical device company and even sparkling new needles can have a burr on the tip leading to pain and additional damage… it does not take long for a perfectly honed needle to develop imperfections. We used to use a cotton ball to see if there was a burr on the needle tip, if the needle snagged cotton fibers there was definitely a burr.

if what you are doing works for you then that’s ok. I re-use my BS meter lances probably a hundred or more times and I change them when they hurt. same as my razor blade (only get 5-7 uses on the blade though) The official guidance is to “change the needle every time”., but what you do is up to you!

I’m not sure just why but @joe 's comment sparkrd my curiosity. There was a time when you could get reusable syringes I believe you boiled them to clean them but I’m wondering about the needles that came with them - how many came with the syringe and how many times were you supposed to use them? Did you boil those too? Sterilize with alcohol? To the best of my memory my parents never used those on me.

@wadawabbit very large bore needles were stainless steel and screwed on to the end of glass (yes glass) syringes. You could boil the needle, syringe barrel, and plunger - but the preferred method was to autoclave them. (steam sterilization). the barrel and plunger were a matched set. you could get as many and as many different kinds of screw on needles as necessary.

those are gone with the wind now. in favor of the ultra fine gauge needles. they are sharper and hurt way less.

@T1DSince1990 Welcome Leslie to the JDRF TypeOneNation Community Forum!

@gmershon Over the course of time, centuries, reuse of needles and syringes has been common practice. I used my original glass insulin syringe and two stainless steel 26 gauge needles for close to two decades, boiling daily for sterilization and carrying in steri–tubes with alcohol for use outside; the syringe with two scales, one for U-40 Regular [fast acting] concentration and the other for U-80 NPH [long-acting] insulin concentration - fun time when giving a mixed-dose with one needle-stick.

Moving on: In the 1970s with the arrival of the rDNA insulin formulations -developed in zero-gravity on the US Space Laboratory - and adoption of a new U-100 insulin concentration “as future standard” device manufacturers began experimenting with throw-away stuff. The major supplier of all types of syringe and needles invited me to become a member of its Product Development User Panel. The first product to test was the insulin needle - my task was to use a throw-away needle until it was no longer comfortable and return it to the manufacturer labeled with “times-used” for analysis; my needles lasted between 2 and 3 weeks. In retrospect, I don’t know how this information entered into the manufacturing practice.

To answer directly you question about “pen-needle reuse”, my use of pens [I never used any of the new-fangled prefilled pens] cover a period of about 23 years, and the only time I did not use a needle only once was if I somehow damaged the needle. Prior to beginning using a pump, I injected with needles used multiple times for 47 years and do not appear to have scar-tissue as a result - although I do have a couple of body areas where insulin absorption appears to be a little retarded.

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