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!

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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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I always reused my pen needles (as well as my syringes!). I would simply wipe the needle with an alcohol swab after taking my shot so that it would be clean and sterilized for the next time. This practice was recommended to me by my endocrine, who was also a T1D, when I was using syringes. I just kept doing the same thing with my pen needles when I switched to pens. When the point starts to get dull, it’s time to switch to a new one. I do the same with my lancets as well!

Pam K.
T1D 58 1/2 years and counting!


Me too - I’ve often left a pen needle on for a day and used it 4 or 5 times. Despite my care team pulling faces at me, nothing bad happened at all! I’m lucky enough to get my needles paid for in the UK, but if I had to pay for them I’d certainly reuse them.
I think someone said in the good ole days we used to use metal and glass syringes and metal needles and have to keep them in a container of isopropryl to keep them sterile, and used the needles until they hurt so much because they were so blunt. That was 50 years ago and although it’s better now, I don’t think it actually did me any harm.
Just be really carefull when you put the cap back on not to touch the needle with the cap, as that will blunt it.


I used to use my needles and needle tips twice unless i dropped or accidentally did something to them

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@gmershon -

I’ve always reused needles with no problem. I was told by my endocrine years before insulin pens were a thing, that I could reuse my plastic syringes if I wiped the needle off with alcohol after each use to sterilize it. So, when I started using a pen with pen needles I just did the same thing. I would reuse them until the tip got too dull to use comfortably.

~Pam K.
T1D 58.9 years and counting!

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I got the image from a google search for the purposes of this thread, but I saw it for the first time at the Joslin Clinic :woman_shrugging:

Quick update…, but first thanks to everyone for your input!

Based on your feedback I started the practice of reusing needles. At first it was twice per needle, however have gradually increased the use to 5/6 injections per needle. I found that at this point the needles were noticeably less sharp. So now I only change needles when they reach that point which is lowering my needle costs quite a bit. Hope this helps others on MDI figure out what works best for them.

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I’ve had T1 for close to 55 years. Plastic, disposable syringes were in use when I started injecting insulin. The needle gauge was enormous. and I used each syringe only once. As the needle gauge got smaller and smaller, things became more comfortable. Back in the late 80’s, I was on a diabetic forum and the moderator was talking about his reusing his BD syringes until the needles got dull. I decided to try that, and started reusing my syringes for at least a week, two shots a day. I was on the classic NPH and regular insulin regime.

In 2012, I started using pens. I use Humalog and Lantus pens. I take about six injections a day - four Humalog, two Lantus. My A1C runs about 6.6 - 6.7 on average. I use the BD Micro-fine Plus needles with my pens, and I use each needle for two weeks without any problems. I do have to push the needle in just a little harder towards the end of its run, but without any discomfort.

So if the question is, does anyone reuse needles on their pens, well, I guess my hand is up, and I’m saying “I, do, I do!”


I remember seeing that image posted above of the worn needle when I was a child- wasn’t is an insert inside of the BD needle boxes once upon a time? Or maybe just a pamphlet- Hard to remember.
If you are really struggling, I personally believe it is better to reuse a needle over skipping an insulin dose (disclaimer: I am not a doctor, if you have one you should listen to them instead).
I have reused (pen) needles many, many times. BD brand has been better for this than other brands I had tried. Maybe their needles are more sturdy, can’t say for sure.
I change the needle if I accidentally poke it on the needle cover when putting it back on, or once it has too much resistance against my skin. I don’t know how much it is with insurance anymore (haven’t had insurance for years now), but I’ve been able to get boxes of BD micro 100 count from amazon for less than 10 dollars each, with no prescription. Legitimately a life saver, in my case.

Additional update… as I’ve been gradually increasing the usage of the BD nano 4mm needles. At first I was seeing a 5-6 usage decrease in the needle sharpness, however after testing additional needles I found that I can easily get 2 plus weeks of use (on my bolus pen) from a single needle with no increase in injection pain or bruising. The needles on my basil pen are lasting until the pen runs out of insulin or about 25-28 days of use.

Not to get too personal, but how do you manage without insurance? Feel free not to answer if you would rather not.