Insulin is a protein hormone that can cause skin irritation if it is not cleaned up properly. The severity of the skin irritation will depend on the amount of insulin that is spilled, the type of insulin, and the person's individual sensitivity.

In some cases, spilled insulin on the skin can cause an allergic reaction, which can be more severe. The allergic reaction can cause symptoms such as hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss further what you need to do in case of an insulin spill, and the best ways to prevent that incident in the first place. 

Should You Worry if Insulin Touches Your Skin?

Insulin is a protein hormone . It’s a polypeptide, which means that it’s made up of multiple amino acids linked together. The chemical composition of insulin can vary depending on the type of insulin.

Insulin Is a Natural Substance

Insulin isn’t inherently harmful to the skin. It’s a protein hormone that’s naturally produced by the body. Generally, it’s not harmful to the skin when it’s administered properly. 

However, if insulin is spilled on the skin and not cleaned up properly, it can cause skin irritation. This is because insulin is a protein, and proteins can be irritating to the skin.

Woman Giving Insulin Shot

The Side Effects Depend on the Type of Insulin  

The type of insulin that’s spilled can affect the severity of the side effects. Insulin comes in different types, including rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting. 

For example, rapid-acting insulin is more likely to cause skin irritation than long-acting insulin.

Concentration Is an Important Factor

Insulin that is concentrated or has been sitting for a long time may be more likely to cause skin problems. That’s because it’s more likely to contain impurities. These impurities can irritate the skin.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Spilled Insulin on the Skin?

The potential side effects of spilled insulin on the skin can vary depending on the type of insulin, the amount of insulin that is spilled, and the person's individual sensitivity.

Some of the most common side effects of spilled insulin on the skin include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Blisters
  • Rash
A Woman Experiencing Allergic And Rash Reaction

In rare cases, spilled insulin can cause an allergic reaction, which can be more severe. The allergic reaction can cause symptoms such as:

  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock

If you experience any of these symptoms after spilling insulin on your skin, you should seek medical attention immediately.

What to Do if You Spill Insulin on Your Skin?

Diabetes necessitates working with insulin on a daily basis. If you spill insulin on your skin, it’s important to take steps to clean the area and monitor for any signs of problems. Here are the steps on what to do:

  • Immediately wash the area with soap and water. Use warm, running water and mild soap. Wash the area for at least 2 minutes.
  • If the insulin is concentrated, you may need to wash the area for several minutes. Follow the instructions on the insulin label for how to clean a spill.
  • Dry the area with a clean towel.
  • Monitor the area for any signs of redness, swelling, or itching. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
  • If you spill insulin on your clothes, wash them immediately in cold water.
  • If you spill insulin on a surface, wipe it up with a damp cloth.
  • Do not flush spilled insulin down the toilet.

How to Prevent Spilling Insulin on Your Skin

Here are some tips to prevent spilled insulin on your skin:

  • Be careful when handling insulin. When handling insulin, be mindful of your surroundings and take steps to avoid spills. This includes being careful not to drop the vial or syringe, and not overfilling the syringe.
  • Store insulin in a safe place where it cannot be spilled. Store insulin in a cool, dry place, away from children and pets. Make sure the container is closed tightly to prevent spills.
  • Do not use insulin that has been spilled. If you do spill insulin, do not use it. Dispose of the spilled insulin properly and get a new vial or syringe.
  • Use a pen needle or insulin pump instead of vials and syringes. Pen needles and insulin pumps are less likely to cause spills than vials and syringes.
  • Keep your insulin in a cool, dry place. Insulin should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Do not store insulin in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Label your insulin clearly with the date and time it was opened. This will help you to track how long the insulin has been opened and to ensure that it’s still safe to use.
  • Dispose of expired or unused insulin properly. Expired or unused insulin should be disposed of properly. Do not flush it down the toilet or throw it in the trash.

By following these tips, you can help prevent spilled insulin on your skin and keep yourself safe.

Insulin Vial And Needles On A Blck Table

Conclusion

Spilled insulin on the skin is not a medical emergency, but it’s important to take steps to clean the area and monitor for any signs of problems. That’s because spilled insulin can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some people.  

Preventive measures include being careful when handling insulin, storing insulin in a safe place, and not using insulin that has been spilled. 

If you do spill insulin, it’s important to wash the area with soap and water immediately. If you experience any skin irritation or an allergic reaction after spilling insulin, you should see a doctor.

Additionally, if you spill insulin on your clothes, wash them immediately in cold water. If you spill insulin on a surface, wipe it up with a damp cloth. And do not flush spilled insulin down the toilet.

Sources

To ensure that we give you correct, accurate, and relevant information, all articles on Diabetic & Me are backed by verified information from academic research papers, well-known organizations, research institutions, and medical associations.

  1. CDC Diabetes Basics
  2. Health Line Essential Amino Acids: Definition, Benefits, and Food Sources
  3. wikiHow How to Study the Functions of Protein Hormones in Humans

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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