How to choose between syringe options and pen needles for insulin to find the system that works best with your diabetes plan.

Everyone is unique. What works great for one person, isn’t necessarily the best option for another. As people living with diabetes, we have to be particularly smart about our decisions. After all, our treatment and lifestyle choices have a tremendous impact on how good we feel each day and how effectively we manage our specific situations.

Insulin Syringe and Pen Needle

As a diabetic, you need to make choices that work for your individual needs and preferences, and one of the most important diabetic health decisions you’ll make is how to administer your insulin. The right amount of insulin is how you bring those blood sugar levels closer to normal; how you avoid that exhausted feeling; and how you’re able to live your best possible life.

The biggest determination we face as diabetics is whether to choose an insulin syringe method or to go with pen needles for insulin. There are a wide variety of insulin syringe sizes and pen needle brands to choose from and getting it right is serious business. This blog post will provide some helpful insight you can share with your doctor in order to find the insulin delivery system that works best for you.

Pen Needles vs Syringes

Most folks living with diabetes already know there are two ways to get your insulin dosage – syringes and pens. There’s no right or wrong answer as to which one is better. Both insulin syringes and pen needles have their advantages and disadvantages. The question is, “which one will assist you the most in managing your diabetes?” To help answer that, let’s take a look at each method and the differences between using insulin pen needles and using insulin syringes.


Insulin Syringes

The technique of administering insulin using vials and syringes has been around for ages and is still the choice of many people living with diabetes today.

However, the fact that the process hasn’t changed dramatically over the years is one of its drawbacks. Injecting with a syringe is a bit involved and requires particular focus and care on the part of the person doing the injecting.

Injecting insulin using a syringe:

  1. First, draw air into the syringe to the exact number of units of insulin that’s to be injected.
  2. Next, stand the insulin vial upright and insert the needle directly through the rubber stopper. Push the syringe plunger down releasing the air into the vial.
  3. Making sure the needle remains in the vial, turn the vial upside down and draw the prescribed amount of insulin and just a tad extra into the syringe. 
  4. While keeping the needle inside the vial, tap the syringe to expel any excess bubbles. Carefully push out the extra insulin to reach the proper dosage.
  5. Remove the needle from the vial and perform the insulin injection.


              As you can see, the vial and syringe method is rather complicated. Beyond the process itself, the measurements printed on vials and syringes tend to be small and hard to read which only adds to the possibility of human error.

              So, knowing all of this, why would anyone choose the syringe method? Because like almost every decision in healthcare, there are pluses and minuses.

              For many diabetics, one big advantage is the insulin syringe price. This method tends to be a lot more affordable than insulin pens with brands like Clever Choice Insulin Syringes and Easy Comfort Insulin Syringes offering a variety of insulin syringe sizes and insulin syringe needle sizes at extremely reasonable prices.

              Sure, insulin syringes require a little extra care and effort, but done correctly the result is exactly the same and the savings can certainly add up over the years.

              Another reason to choose vials and syringes is that they allow you to do one important thing insulin pen needles can’t – mix different types of insulin in a single injection. If your diabetes care plan requires you to mix different types of insulin, then your decision has already been made. You’re injecting with a syringe. For the purposes of this blog, we won’t go into the detailed process of mixing insulin in a syringe. Let’s just say that for some people living with diabetes, the old way is the only way.

              One final advantage of using syringes is the ability to prepare several syringes at one time and store them in the refrigerator. This is particularly helpful for older people with diabetes and those who have vision issues. A family member or caregiver can prepare numerous insulin injections and refrigerate them for easy use anytime. This can’t be done with pen needles for insulin.


              Pens and Pen Needles for Insulin

              Pens and pen needles for insulin are certainly a more convenient and worry-free way to administer insulin than traditional vials and syringes. Pens come in two types. Reusable insulin pens feature a cartridge that allows the user to dial up the correct dosage. Once the cartridge is empty, it gets replaced. There are also disposable insulin pens that come pre-filled with a single dosage. Once administered, the pen is simply discarded.

              Reusable or disposable, the process of using an insulin pen is quick and easy.

              Preparing a dose of insulin using a pen

              1. Quickly but gently extend your forearm 20 times to mix the insulin.
              2. Attach a new needle and prime the pen by holding it with the needle end pointing up and gently pressing the injection button until a small drop of insulin appears.
              3. If you have a disposable pen you’re now ready to perform the injection. If you have a reusable pen, set the correct dosage by turning the dial and perform the injection.

                    When using a pen, the process is literally as easy as 1-2-3 and is far less prone to human error than the vial and syringe method. Pens also go anywhere. They’re a lot easier to travel with than vials and syringes, making it a breeze to take your diabetic supplies with you anywhere you go.

                    The downside of using pens for a lot of people living with diabetes is cost. You will pay a premium for the added convenience. Additionally, pen needles are not included with pens and must be purchased separately from a reputable distributor of diabetic healthcare products.

                    Fortunately, there are a variety of pen needle brands to choose from with leaders like BD Insulin Pen Needles and Easy Comfort Pen Needles offering a wide variety of pen needle sizes to meet every diabetes care plan.

                    Now, let’s dig deeper into the different insulin syringe needles sizes and pen needle sizes.


                    Selecting The Right Needle

                    Once you’ve decided whether your personal diabetes care plan calls for syringes or an insulin pen, there’s still one more important decision to make. What length and gauge needle is most effective and comfortable for you?

                    Many people living with diabetes will argue that needle size is the most important decision when formulating an insulin injection plan. The needle, after all, is the actual instrument that penetrates the skin and enters the fatty tissue. If it’s not the proper size for your body type and delivery needs, it can lead to discomfort, and, perhaps worse, it might not provide the right amount of insulin absorption into the body.

                    What follows are a few basics to consider when deciding on needle lengths and gauges.

                    Selecting The Right Needle Size for Injection

                    Long Is Probably Wrong

                    One historic misconception about both insulin syringe needle sizes and pen needle sizes is that longer is better. This is not at all true when it comes to treating diabetes. Insulin is most effective when injected into the layer of fatty tissue that lies just below the skin. Longer needles can pass right through this layer and penetrate the muscle tissue. Not only does this usually lead to more pain and considerable bruising, it also causes the insulin to be used up more rapidly than most doctors would like and can even result in hypoglycemia.

                    The fact is, most people are better off using a shorter needle, somewhere between 4mm and 8mm in length. In fact, a study by the American Diabetes Association makes a point that even people who are overweight, once thought to require longer needles, found insulin injections to be more efficacious and safer using a shorter needle. 

                    Of course, it’s always recommended to discuss your particular diabetes plan, including needle length, with your personal physician.


                    Finding The Right Needle Gauge

                    The measured thickness of a needle is called its needle gauge. Insulin syringe  needles commonly range from 28 to 31 gauge, while pen needles are typically measured at either 31 or 32 gauge. The higher the number, the thinner the needle.

                    So, what gauge is right for you?  If you’re like most people, you’re probably saying to yourself, “give me the thinnest one.”

                    It’s true that the finer the insulin syringe gauge or pen needle gauge is, the easier that needle will penetrate the skin and the less pain you’re likely to experience. However, choosing the right needle gauge depends both on your comfort level and on the dosage of insulin you’ll be injecting.

                    If your treatment plan calls for a large amount of insulin, a wider, lower-gauge needle may help deliver the medication faster and more effectively. While you may experience a slight bit of added discomfort, the efficacy of the treatment may be worth a little minor soreness.

                    Once again, it’s always recommended to discuss your individual diabetes plan with your doctor to determine what works best for you.


                    Where to Find Insulin Syringes and Pen Needles

                    Technology has made life easier for all of us and that includes improving the way people live and thrive with diabetes. Leading diabetes care suppliers, like Diabetic Warehouse have made it their mission to make the world’s finest diabetes products just a point and click away. This includes a comprehensive selection of options from brands like Clever Choice Insulin Syringes and Easy Comfort Insulin Syringes, as well options from brands like BD Ultra-Fine Pen Needles.

                    Living with diabetes has never been more convenient than it is today. Whatever program you and your doctor decide works best for your insulin needs and lifestyle, you’ll find the products you need online and ready to be delivered directly to your home or office.

                    To see just how easy shopping online can be, you can explore a full range of insulin syringe sizes and syringe needle sizes here, or browse a comprehensive selection of pen needle sizes here.



                    There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to selecting the right insulin delivery system and needle size for your specific diabetes plan. In fact, we only touched on a few key points in this post. And that’s good news! It means you and your physician have a lot of great options to explore when building your personal diabetes healthcare plan. All that really matters is what works best for your individual treatment regimen, lifestyle, and budget.

                    As diabetes care continues to advance, it will surely bring a future filled with even more possibilities. For now, however, let’s focus on today and appreciate the fact that new diabetic products are giving us more control, more comfort, and more ways to live our best lives than we’ve ever known before. Pen needle vs syringe? That’s really up to you. But knowing you have great options either way is something to be extremely happy about.


                    Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including test strips, syringes and needles, glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit

                    2 THOUGHTS ON “Insulin Syringes, Pens And Pen Needle Sizes. What’s Best For You?”

                    by Gary

                    I have been using pen needles for over 10 years the difference between 3/16-and 5/16 is big on my skin ,different manufacturers make the 3/16 less painful but harder to install on the pen. I think they could make things a little easier to use. Just venting. Thank you for listening.

                    by Carmen

                    I use insulin