Adalimumab (Humira) is an injectable medication people use to treat several conditions. It’s only available by prescription. Conditions people most often treat with Humira include:
- chronic plaque psoriasis
- psoriatic arthritis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- ankylosing spondylitis
- juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Because Humira is usually prescribed for the treatment of chronic conditions, learning how and where to correctly inject the medication can help reduce pain that may be associated with repeated injections.
Humira is an injectable medicine. You may be able to give yourself the injection at home. Some people will need to visit their doctor’s office for the injections, however.
If your doctor decides home injections are the best option for you, you’ll need one-on-one injection training from your doctor or their staff. The medicine also comes with a pamphlet with instructions. Ask for training as often as you need it. If you don’t feel comfortable giving yourself the injection, ask for additional guidance. Feeling sure of what you’re doing will help relieve stress and anxiety. Once you start the injections, you should stick to your doctor’s prescribed schedule.
You can give yourself Humira injections in the abdomen or front thigh. The most common injection site is the abdomen. The abdomen is also the most recommended site because it is the least painful.
Here are instructions for giving yourself a Humira injection:
1. Collect everything you need for your injection
Collect the following:
- your pen or syringe, which should be refrigerated for no more than 30 minutes before your injection
- a disinfectant wipe or alcohol swab for cleaning your injection site
- a storage container for holding your used pen or syringe
- a cotton ball or gauze pad to place on your injection sites if you have any blood or fluid
2. Wash your hands
Wash your hands before you inject yourself. This will help keep the area clean and reduce your chances of infection.
3. Sit down for your injection
Sitting down isn’t always necessary, but it does help you pay attention and focus, which is very important. Once you’re seated, arrange your materials and double check that you have everything you need. While rare, some people feel faint after any injection, so sitting in a chair may prevent a fall.
4. Prepare your injection site
Remove the Humira pen and the disinfectant wipe from their packaging. Pull up your shirt and sit back in your chair if you’re injecting yourself in the abdomen. If you’ve selected your front thigh, expose the injection area. Wipe the injection area you’ve selected with the disinfectant wipe.
If you’re using the pen, pull the cap off the pen. To do this, pull down on the dark gray cap, which is cap 1, and pull up on the plum-colored cap, which is cap 2. Don’t remove the caps until right before you begin your injection.
If you’re using a syringe, remove the needle cover right before you start the injection. Don’t remove the needle cover early, and don’t touch the needle once you’ve removed the cover.
5. Give yourself the Humira injection
Place the pen on your selected injection site, and hold it at a 90-degree angle to your skin. Press the pen against your skin firmly. If you’re using the syringe, pinch the cleaned skin and hold firmly. Hold the syringe at a 45-degree angle to your skin and insert the needle.
With one finger, push down on the plum-colored trigger at the top of the Humira pen. You’ll hear a loud click when the injection begins. Hold the pen in place as you inject the medicine. It should take 10 seconds for the medicine to inject the medicine fully. You’ll know the pen is empty when a yellow marker appears in the window.
If you’re using a syringe, push down on the plunger to begin the injection. Push the plunger slowly until you’ve injected all of the liquid.
6. Remove the injector
Once the pen window is filled with the yellow marker or the syringe is empty, remove the device from your selected injection site. Place the pen or syringe in your designated trash container. Place a cotton ball on your injection site to stop any bleeding or catch any fluid. Apply pressure for 20 seconds. Dispose of the cotton ball in the trash.
The dosage you need will be unique to your condition. This means that another person taking Humira will likely need a different amount of the medication.
Your doctor will set a schedule for your doses. They’ll tell you the strength of your dose, the number of doses, and how much time you can allow between each dose. You might be able to inject one dose per day for a few days, or you may be able to do more than one dose per day over fewer days.
Follow these five tips may make your injection experience a bit better:
- Many Humira users select their injection site based on ease of access and pain level. The most common sites are the abdomen and the front of the thigh, but injecting in your abdomen may cause less pain than injecting in your thigh because your abdomen’s skin isn’t as tight.
- Using the same injection site every time can increase sensitivity, which will make the experience more painful. Inject yourself at least 1 inch away from your last injection site.
- Numb your skin by applying an ice pack to your injection site 15 minutes before you inject the medicine. This cold compress will temporarily reduce the pain of the injection.
- Try to distract yourself by talking with a friend or family member, listening to music, or reclining and relaxing. Being at ease will help reduce any pain or anxiety.
- Adequate treatment requires taking the injections on time. Keep a log, journal, or calendar of the days you inject, or set a phone alarm to remind yourself when to take the injection.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose entirely. Then, continue on with your schedule. Don’t double up on your doses to make up for your missed dose. If you have any questions about how to make up for your missed dose, call your doctor’s office and ask.
You won’t begin to notice changes from Humira right away. Ask your doctor what they expect from your dose level.
If you think your current treatment options aren’t working for your condition, ask your doctor about other options. Make a list of issues you have with your current treatment to prepare for your appointment. Be honest with your doctor. If scheduling a dose is difficult or the side effects of the treatment you’re using right now are just too much, tell your doctor. The more information your doctor has, the better.
If you’ve already been using Humira for a while, keep your regular appointments with your doctor to check your progress. While they’re rare, certain side effects can be serious, even potentially fatal. Maintaining regular checkups will help you and your doctor detect any side effects before they become a bigger problem. You have many treatment options. Your doctor will work with you to find the best one.