How do I use the patch?
Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking! The nicotine patch your doctor has recommended will help make it easier to quit. The following instructions will help you use the patch the right way. Be sure to stop smoking on the day you start using the patch. Smoking or using other forms of tobacco while you’re using the patch may lead to health problems. Do not let anyone else use the patch. Keep the patch away from children and pets. Do not use the patch if you are pregnant, unless your doctor knows you are pregnant and has told you to do so. If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using the patch. You should also talk to your doctor before using the patch if you are younger than 18 years old.
What do I need to tell my doctor?
Tell your doctor if you take any medicines. The patch may change how some medicines work. Also, tell your doctor if you have any illnesses, including the following:
- Chest pains or a recent heart attack
- Heart disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Thyroid disease
- Skipped or irregular heart beats
- Allergies to tape, bandages or medicines
- Skin rashes or skin diseases
- High blood pressure
- Kidney or liver disease
Call your doctor if you experience dizziness, upset stomach, bad headaches, vomiting, cold sweats, drooling, confusion, blurred vision, hearing problems, weakness or fainting while using the patch. These could be signs that you are getting too much nicotine (an overdose) from the patch. If you experience any of these problems, take off the patch and call your doctor right away.
My skin tingles under the patch. Is that normal?
It is normal to feel mild tingling, itching or burning when you put the patch on. This feeling usually lasts 15 minutes to 1 hour. When you take off an old patch, your skin may be red where the patch was. Your skin should not stay red for more than 1 day. If the skin stays very red for 4 days, or if it gets swollen or sore, do not put on a new patch. Call your doctor.
Can I wear the patch in the shower?
You can wear your patch when you bathe, shower, swim or soak in a hot tub. Water will not harm the patch as long as it is firmly in place.
What if the patch falls off?
If your patch comes off, put a new one on a different area of skin. Change it again at the usual time the next day.
- Only open the sealed package when you are ready to put on a patch.
- Peel the protective cover off the patch and throw the cover away. Try not to touch the sticky side of the patch (the side with the protective cover).
- Put one patch on a clean, dry area of skin on your upper body that isn’t covered with hair, such as your stomach, upper arm or side. Do not put the patch on burned, cut or sore skin.
- To apply the patch, place the sticky side on your skin and press it firmly with the palm of your hand for 10 seconds. Make sure the patch is flat and smooth against your skin.
- Wash your hands after putting on the patch. Nicotine on your hands could get into your eyes or nose and cause stinging or other problems.
- Wear the patch for the amount of time shown on the package. Most patches are worn for 16 or 24 hours. If you have sleep problems when you have the patch on, you can take it off at bedtime and put on a new patch in the morning.
- When you take off the old patch, fold it in half with the sticky sides together. Put the old patch in the package from the new patch or in the disposal tray provided. Put the package or tray in the trash where children and pets cannot find it.
- Put the next patch on a different area of skin. Use a different area each day. You can use a previously used area again after waiting 1 week.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.