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How do you inject Humira?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 16, 2021.

Official answer


Key Points

Humira is a self-injection given under the skin using either a prefilled pen or prefilled syringe. You can inject Humira at home after training by a healthcare provider. Humira is injected into your upper thigh or abdomen (belly) area.

Humira (adalimumab) is a prescription medicine commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions such as:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • plaque psoriasis
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ankylosing spondylitis (spine inflammation)
  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • hidradenitis suppurativa (a skin condition)
  • uveitis (eye inflammation)

Because Humira is used for chronic (long-term) medical conditions, learning how and where to inject your medicine may reduce pain and anxiety. Do not attempt to inject it until you have been properly trained by your healthcare provider.

Your doctor will tell you how much Humira to inject and how often. Do not miss any doses unless approved by your doctor. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.

How is Humira administered?

Humira is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. You and your doctor may decide that you can give yourself a Humira injection at home after receiving training. Always ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for help if you have questions about how to inject Humira. Some people will still receive their injections at their doctor’s office.

Humira comes in two ways for use at home: as a single-dose, prefilled pen (often called “auto-injectors”) or as a single dose, prefilled glass syringe. You will give Humira from either the pen or the syringe.

The Humira injection sites are your belly (abdomen) area or the top of your left or right thigh; you can alternate between injections sites. Do not inject into skin that does not look normal, and do not inject through clothing.

Prepare each injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not use the dose if the medicine has changed color, appears cloudy or contains any particles.

How to use Humira pen or syringe

Below are the general instructions for how to inject Humira in the stomach or thigh, using a pen or syringe. Before you begin, review the full manufacturer instructions and illustrations, which you can find here. The manufacturer also supplies videos on their website to demonstrate Humira injection.

How to Inject Humira: Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Wash and dry your hands before you inject Humira to help lower the chance for an infection.

2. Gather your supplies for your injection.

  • Find a clean flat surface to lay your supplies on. Get your pen or syringe. Make sure the name Humira appears on your pen or syringe, dose trays and carton. Always check the expiration date. If expired, do not use and get a new pen.
  • Bring the injection to room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. This will make your injection less painful. Do not use it if frozen, even if it has been thawed and keep it away from sunlight. Do not remove the caps until right before the injection.
  • The other supplies you will need are 1 alcohol swab to clean the injection site (included in Humira package), 1 cotton ball or gauze pad to use after the injection, and ​​a puncture-resistant sharps disposal container to dispose of your used pen or syringe.
  • Call 1-800-4HUMIRA (1-800-448-6472) for a free FDA-cleared sharps disposal container. AbbVie will also send you a box to return your full sharps container at no cost.

3. Where to inject Humira pen or syringe.

  • You can inject into the front of your thigh or your lower abdomen area (your belly). Choose a different site each time you give yourself an injection.
  • If you choose your abdomen, do not use the area that is 2 inches around your belly button (navel). Inject at least one inch away from a site you used before.
  • You may prefer to be seated before your injection in case you feel faint. Sitting down isn't always needed, but it can help you to focus and be stable, which is very important.
  • Use a pen, syringe or needle only once.

4. Prepare your injection site. Wipe the injection site in a circular motion with the alcohol swab and do not touch it again before your injection. Allow the area to dry to lessen the sting (but do not blow on it).

5. Prepare and use your injection pen or syringe

How to prepare the Humira pen

  • Hold the Humira pen with the gray cap (# 1) up. Check the window to be sure the liquid is clear (bubbles are okay); if not clear or has particles use another pen.
  • Pull straight up on the gray cap (cap #1) and pull straight down on the plum-colored cap (cap #2) right before your injection. The gray cap covers the needle and the plum-colored cap covers the activator button. Then, flip the pen so the plum activator button is now pointing up.

How to use the Humira pen

  • Turn the pen so that the white arrow points toward the injection site. Pinch up the cleaned area of skin to be injected and hold it firmly until the injection is done.
  • Place the pen at a 90 degree angle firmly on your raised skin area. Be sure you can see the window. Press the plum-colored activator button with your thumb to begin the injection. You will hear a loud click when the injection starts. Keep pressing the activator button for 10 seconds.
  • When a yellow indicator appears in the window and stops moving, the injection is done. Slowly remove the needle from your skin area. Place a cotton ball or gauze pad on your site for 10 seconds (do not rub).
  • Throw away the Humira pen in a sharps container right after your injection. No need to recap the pen. The pen caps, alcohol swab, cotton ball or gauze pad, dose tray, and packaging may be placed in the household trash.

How to prepare the Humira syringe

  • If you are using the syringe, check the fluid level in the syringe, with the needle facing down, to be sure it is correct. Check the syringe to be sure the liquid is clear (bubbles are okay); if not clear or has particles use another syringe.
  • Hold the syringe with the needle facing up. Gently pull the gray cover off. You will see the air in the top of the syringe. Slowly push the plunger in to push the air out through the needle. If you see a drop of liquid at the end of the needle, this is normal.
  • Do not drop or crush the syringe as it is glass.

How to use the Humira syringe

  • Gently squeeze the area of the cleaned skin and hold it firmly. Place the syringe at a 45 degree angle on your injection site. Using a quick, dart-like motion, insert the needle into the squeezed skin.
  • After the needle is in, let go of the skin. Pull back gently on the plunger. If blood appears in the syringe, do not inject Humira. This means you have entered a blood vessel. Slowly pull out the needle, and throw in the sharps container. Press a cotton ball or gauze to the site for 10 seconds, and start over using a new prefilled syringe at a different site. You do not need to pull back on the plunger if the Humira you received is in a blue box.
  • If no blood appears in the syringe, slowly push down on the plunger to begin the injection. Push the plunger until you’ve injected all of the liquid.
  • Slowly pull out the needle, and press a cotton ball or gauze to the site for 10 seconds.
  • Throw away the Humira prefilled syringe in a sharps container right after your injection. Do not replace the cap. The pen caps, alcohol swab, cotton ball or gauze pad, dose tray, and packaging may be placed in the household trash.

These are not complete injection instructions and should not replace any directions given to you by your doctor. See the Instructions for Use inside the carton for complete directions on the correct way to prepare and inject Humira. If you have any questions, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

You can also call 1-800-4HUMIRA (1-800-448-6472) for further advice.

Is Humira injection painful?

Learning how to properly inject Humira can help reduce the pain from the injection. Humira is a subcutaneous injection. Subcutaneous injections, which go into the layer of fat between the skin and the muscle, are usually less painful than intramuscular injections. Plus, most people only need to inject Humira every 2 weeks.

Because Humira is given on a long-term basis, learning how to inject the medicine can lessen the discomfort. Your doctor will have you train at their office before you start your injections at home. Ask for instructions from your healthcare team anytime you feel you need help with your injection.

Learn about the possible injection side effects with Humira, such as redness, rash, swelling, itching, or bruising. These symptoms usually will go away within a few days. If the side effects do not go away within a few days or get worse, call your doctor right away.

Tips on how to inject Humira painlessly

No injection is 100% painless, but trying some of these tips and asking your healthcare provider for further advice may help.

  • Rotate (change) your injection sites to help lessen sensitivity or a build-up of scar tissue, which may increase pain. Relax your body and muscles before injection, and remember to keep breathing.
  • Be sure to let your injection come to room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before you inject it. Cold injections can be more painful. Never use the stove or a microwave to warm up your Humira.
  • Squeezing or pinching up your skin before injection will help to prevent an intramuscular injection.
  • Allow the alcohol to dry completely before doing the injection to lessen any sting.
  • Ask your doctor if you can numb the area with a cold pack and towel for a short while before injections. You have to be sure you do not damage your skin with the cold. Never apply a cold pack or ice directly to the skin.
  • If possible, try using both the syringe and auto-injector to see which you prefer. While some people like the ease of the auto-injector, others prefer the ability to control the speed of the injection using a syringe.

What to do if I miss a dose of Humira?

If you forget to take a dose, inject it as soon as you remember. Then, take your next dose at your regular scheduled time. Mark your calendar with your injection dates to help you remember.

If you receive your injections at your doctor’s office, call them immediately to reschedule.

Learn more: How long can Humira be out of the fridge?

Bottom Line

  • Humira (adalimumab) is a self-injection given under the skin (subcutaneously) using either a prefilled autoinjector pen or prefilled syringe, after training by a healthcare provider. You can learn to give these injections at home.
  • It is used to treat common inflammatory conditions like ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • There are several steps you will practice at your doctor's office to learn to give the Humira injection. Learning these steps can help lower any anxiety you may feel about injections and also help to lessen pain from the injection.

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