Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(6):1421-1422

How do I use the patch?

Congratulations on your decision to quit using tobacco. The nicotine patch your doctor has recommended will help make it easier to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco. The instructions in this handout will help you use the patch the right way. Be sure to stop using tobacco on the day you start using the patch. Using 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 breast-feeding, talk to your doctor before using the patch.


  1. Open the sealed package only when you are ready to put on a patch.

  2. Peel the protective cover off the patch and throw it away. Try not to touch the silver side of the patch (the sticky side).

  3. Put one patch on a dry area of skin without hair, such as your stomach, upper arm or side. Do not put the patch on burned, cut or sore skin.

  4. To apply the patch, place the silver side on your skin and press it firmly for 10 seconds with the palm of your hand. Make sure the patch is flat and smooth against your skin.

  5. 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.

  6. Wear the patch for the amount of time shown on the package. Most patches are worn for 16 or 24 hours. Put the next patch on in a different place. Use a different place each day. You can use the old place again after waiting one week.

  7. 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, and put the package in the trash where children and pets cannot find it.

What do I need to tell my doctor before I use the patch?

Please tell your doctor if you take any medicines. The patch may change how some medicines work.

Please tell your doctor if you have any illnesses, including the following:

  • Chest pains or a recent heart attack

  • Heart disease

  • Stomach ulcers

  • Thyroid disease

  • Diabetes

  • 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 get too much nicotine (an overdose). Signs of an overdose could be dizziness, upset stomach, bad headaches, vomiting, cold sweats, drooling, confusion, blurred vision, hearing problems, weakness or fainting.

If you have 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 lasts 15 minutes to one 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 one day. If the skin becomes very red, swollen or sore, call your doctor and do not put on a new patch.

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 on a new one and change it again at the usual time the next day.

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