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AskNadia: Skin Reaction to Levemir Insulin

Dear Nadia,

I injected Levemir insulin and now I have a ball. Is that normal? It itches as well.


Dear Michelle,

Skin reactions to insulin injection are not new. Since the advent of insulin in 1922, people taking injections who experience adverse reactions was once estimated at 50%.  This is believed to be a result of agents like zinc that was used to manufacture insulin. The process has since been refined with synthetic human insulin.

History of Insulin

Before the 1980’s  insulin was taken from cows and pigs to produce a life-saving medication, for people living with type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

The insulin that is derived from the cows and pigs is referred to as animal insulin. Animal insulin is no longer available in the United States. However, there is one company, Hypurin in the United Kingdom that still manufacture short and long acting animal insulin.

There is an active group of animal insulin users that state they experience fewer side effects with the animal insulin. I know some Americans that go the U.K. with their prescriptions to buy a half years supply of animal insulin.

Today, most people do not experience many reactions with synthetic human insulin (derived from genetically modified yeast or bacteria cells) The exception to this rule applies to people using synthetic human insulin for ten years or more. The ten-year veterans have reported a skin reaction to taking synthetic human insulin.

Therapeutic Options

Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes published a report showing that type 1’s are more susceptible to having skin reactions (Lipohypertrophy) than type 2 ‘s.

They also noted to avoid  skin reactions (Lipohypertrophy), people using insulin need to rotated their injecting sites to prevent or allow swelling to go down.

Anther reported therapeutic option for administering insulin to prevent a skin reaction is to take less of your dose more frequently. It goes without saying; you need to speak to your healthcare professional immediately when you experience the symptoms you describe.

A healthcare professional who works with people that have diabetes has the experience of seeing many different scenarios with patients and can advise you on how you can continue to administer your insulin and prevent one of the common side effects. does list your reaction under”other common side effects”.


It helps the FDA to know which side effects the general public are experiencing when using specific medication. If you would like to report your symptoms to the FDA, you can reach them at 1-800-FDA-1088.

You might also be interested in reading these articles on diabetes

1- New Long-Acting Insulin Now Available

2- Case Study Shows Desensitisation May Solve Allergic Reaction to Human Insulin

3- British Diabetic Association Accused of Hiding Information About Human Insulin Reactions





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Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professionals therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:
Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia holds 15 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
Her passion for working in the diabetes community stemmed from her personal loss. She has used her experience as a caretaker to forge a career in helping others.

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