Subcutaneous injection

A subcutaneous injection (abbreviated as SC, SQ, sub-cu, sub-Q or subcut with SQ being the preferred abbreviation, since it is the only abbreviation listed under the entry for “subcutaneous” in Dorland’s 28th edition) is administered as a bolus into the subcutis, the layer of skin directly below the dermis and epidermis, collectively referred to as the cutis. Subcutaneous injections are highly effective in administering vaccines and medications such as insulin, morphine, diacetylmorphine and goserelin. Subcutaneous, as opposed to intravenous, injection of recreational drugs is referred to as “skin popping.”

Insulin syringes are made specifically for self injections and have friendly features:

  • shorter needles, as insulin injections are subcutaneous (under the skin) rather than intramuscular,
  • finer gauge needles, for less pain, and
  • markings in insulin units to simplify drawing a measured dose of insulin.