How to Care For Your Insulin Pen

If you recently have been prescribed an insulin pen, they are very easy to use, but there are a few things to know about them.

Basics For A Disposal Insulin Pen


A disposable insulin pen will be secure and ok for use if stored, unopened, at room temperature (and not above 86°F) for up to 4 weeks. If refrigerated, the unopened insulin pen should last up until the printed expiration date on the packaging. It is important not to let the pen or packaging get exposed to freezing (below 32°F) temperatures while refrigerated or at room temperature. If it freezes, you need to dispose of it and obtain a new unit before using it to dose yourself.

If your insulin pen has been opened, but unused, it is ok to use for up to a maximum of 4 weeks, either refrigerated (but not below freezing) or stored at room temperature (not above 86°F). Make sure not to leave your pen in a car, especially if extreme weather is a potential. If it is opened, make sure to keep the cap on at all times prior to use.

The main reason to keep the cap on, and to try to leave the pen in its packaging before use, is because insulin can degrade in sunlight. It can also degrade when frozen, or when left to get too hot in a hot room or car.

Don’t leave the pen in a car or any other place where it could get too hot or too cold

Air Travel

If traveling in the US by airplane, keep your insulin pen (or any insulin vials) with you to prevent them freezing in the cargo hold of the airplane. TSA rules for travel within the USA state that you must notify a TSA officer that you are diabetic and that you are carrying your diabetic supplies with you. Your insulin pen and other diabetic supplies must be clearly labeled. (Being left in the original packaging is the easiest way to do that.)


Try to handle an insulin pen carefully. Rough treatment of the pen can lead to an inaccurate dosage. If you accidentally drop your pen on a hard surface, or crush it somehow, carefully expect the casing for cracks or damage. If it is damaged, dispose of it. Don’t try to repair a broken insulin pen with glue, tape, or any other type of repair. It needs to be a sterile, closed system to deliver insulin safely and without any chance of bacteria getting inside. If it is ok, attach a new needle, and make sure the insulin flow is ok before you inject. If you are wondering how to change an insulin pen needle, the old needle is easily twisted off, and the new needle twists on just as easily. Don’t try to refill a disposable insulin pen. When it is empty, dispose of your insulin pen as per your local waste instructions.


Do your best to not expose your insulin pen to dirt, dust, grease, liquids, or any other contaminant. You can clean a dirty insulin pen with a damp cloth, but don’t submerge, soak, vigorously wash, or try to lubricate it in any way. Don’t try to disassemble or pull apart your pen. The insulin pen is designed to be resilient and resistant to breakage, but with enough rough handling, it can be damaged. The only maintenance needed is to avoid breaking it, and to wipe it off it is dirty.

Dos And Don’ts

  • Never try to repair a faulty or broken insulin pen.
  • Don’t ever submerge or soak a dirty pen. Wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Never store your pen in a car.
  • Never allow your insulin pen to freeze, or to get above 86°F.
  • If you drop your pen, make sure it isn’t broken, and replace the needle before using it.

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