Where & How to Best Apply Testosterone Gel

It’s not always straightforward how or where exactly to apply testosterone gel, but we’ll help make it clear.

A blue and purple gradient with a shirtless torson applying gel to their upper arms.

Illustrations by Leo Mateus.

For those of you who don't know, testosterone gel is a transdermal/topical prescription product. This means the testosterone itself is applied to and absorbed through the skin. Gel is the most common form of topical testosterone. What’s nice about it is that gel can dry relatively quickly on the skin, even if the volume of gel is quite high to match a higher dose of T.

Testosterone gel typically comes in a pump bottle - almost like a soap dispenser, with each pump of the dispenser being a dose of testosterone. They also come in single-use packets, but the pump is more common based on cost.

Where & how to apply T gel depends on what feels best to the person applying it.

Testosterone gel is applied by rubbing the dose directly from the pump bottle onto the skin. The gel can be pumped into the hand to apply onto the body, or directly onto the body. 

The main goal when applying testosterone gel is to put it in areas that:

  • aren’t particularly bendy (think: backs of knees)
  • won’t rub off on others, which could give them a non-consensual dose of T
  • will be covered by clothing

Common locations to apply T gel are generally:

Upper arms & shoulders: areas that would be covered by a t-shirt, for example, avoiding the armpits and inside of the elbows if possible

undefined

Front & back of thighs: areas that would be covered by shorts, for example, avoiding behind the knees

undefined

The abdomen: There is some data that suggests testosterone gel doesn't get absorbed as well when it is rubbed onto the abdomen, but it is not strong data. If the abdomen is the most convenient area for you, it should be fine.

undefined

With any of these locations, we can always use lab data on testosterone levels to determine how much is actually getting absorbed, and make adjustments to dosage accordingly.

Finally, there is no need to wear gloves while applying T gel, but don’t forget to wash those hands after, as not to get the gel on anyone (pets included) or anything else. It is okay to have skin to skin contact with others with the areas of the skin where there is no T gel.

Don’t forget to let the gel dry!

After the T gel has been applied, it is important to let it fully dry before putting on clothing and going about the day. This is important because while it is still wet, it could run off onto the clothing which decreases the amount that is absorbed, and therefore decreases the dose absorbed by the body.

Even when it is dry, the gel continues to be absorbed through the skin for up to 5-6 hours, meaning application time should be taken into consideration when planning to shower, apply lotion/moisturizer, swim, exercise, or just generally get sweaty.

One more tip for labs and T gel.

When it comes time to get labs, make sure to take a shower between the last gel application and labs, and put on a clean shirt so that the lab needle doesn’t accidentally get T gel on it during the blood draw, making T levels look like they are through the roof! 

For those ready to get started with FOLX for testosterone, the process begins here. For existing FOLX members with questions about testosterone gel, don't hesitate to schedule time with a clinician. And for those who’ve just got some more questions, read up on testosterone here, and feel free to reach out to us at thelibrary@folxhealth.com.