Nicotine patch

A nicotine patch is a transdermal patch that releases nicotine into the bloodstream through absorption via the skin. This relieves the unpleasant nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

How do I use the nicotine patch?

  • Do not apply to skin that is oily, burned, irritated, or damaged in any way.
  • Remove backing from patch and immediately press onto a clean, dry, hairless part of your upper arm or hip. Press firmly and hold in place for 10 seconds to ensure it sticks well.
  • Wash your hands after applying or removing the patch.
  • Apply a new patch at the same time each day. Be sure to use a different skin site to avoid skin irritation and to maximise nicotine absorption.
  • Do not cut the patch in half or into smaller pieces.
  • Do not wear more than one patch at a time.
  • Wear each patch for 16 or 24 hours, depending on the preparation chosen. Do not leave the patch on for more than 24 hours because it may irritate your skin and lose its effectiveness.

How often should I use the nicotine patch?

Use one patch per day.

Strength of nicotine patch

Patches come in various strengths and are manufactured by various companies. There are two main types of patches which can be distinguished from one another based on their nicotine release profile:

  • 24 hour patches comes in 21mg, 14mg and 7mg (24 hour patches are recommended for those who smoke within the 30 minutes of waking and/or who wake at night to smoke)
  • 16 hour patches comes in 25mg, 15mg and 10mg (16 hour patches are recommended for those who smoke after 30 minutes of waking). The patch needs to be taken off before bedtime and reapplied the following morning.

Which nicotine patch should I use?

24 hour patch

  • If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day then use a 21mg patch for four weeks before moving to a lower strength patch.
  • If you smoke less than 20 cigarettes per day then start with a 14mg strength patch for up to eight weeks before moving to a lower strength patch.

16 hour patch

  • If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day then use a 25mg patch for eight weeks before moving to a lower strength patch.
  • If you smoke less than 20 cigarettes per day then start with a 15mg strength patch for up to eight weeks before moving to a lower strength patch.

What if I am pregnant or breast feeding?

Pregnant women should be advised to only use the 16 hour patch so that the foetus is not continually exposed to nicotine. If you are breast feeding, talk to your doctor about using the nicotine patch.

Possible side effects

Common side effects: Trouble sleeping, abnormal or vivid dreams, mild redness, itching, or burning at the application site
Uncommon side effects: Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); blurred vision; fast or irregular heartbeat; nausea; severe or persistent dizziness or headache; swelling or persistent (more than four days) redness at the application site; vomiting; weakness.