Nicotine Patch Overview

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About the Nicotine Patch

The nicotine patch is placed on your body like a bandage. The patch slowly releases nicotine into your body through your skin. The Nicotine patch helps to ease the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. The patch is safe and does not cause cancer.

HOW TO USE THE PATCH: Read manufacturer instructions carefully.

  • Stop smoking before using the patch.
  • Place the patch only once a day on a clean, dry, non-hairy site on the upper part of your body or upper arm. Apply the patch immediately after removing it from its protective pouch. This stops the evaporation and loss of nicotine from the patch of the skin for at least one week.
  • Do not use the patch if you are smoking, using smokeless tobacco, snuff, or other forms of nicotine replacement (like gum or nicotine lozenge).
  • Do not use the patch if you are pregnant.


  • Nicotine patch manufacturers suggest that you use nicotine patches for 6-10 weeks - depending on what patch brand and your smoking habits.
  • If you smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day, start at Step 1 (21mg) for 4 weeks. Use Step 2 (14mg) for 2-weeks and Step 3 (7mg) for two weeks.
  • If you smoke 10 or less cigarettes begin with Step 2 (14mg) for 4 weeks and then step down to Step 3 (7mg) for two weeks.


Be sure to speak with your doctor before using the patch if you:

  • If you have heart disease or an irregular heartbeat or if you have had a recent heart attack. Nicotine can increase your heart rate.
  • If you have high blood pressure that is not controlled with medications. Nicotine can increase your blood pressure.
  • If you are pregnant or nursing. While NRT is believed to be safer than smoking, the risks to your child are not fully known.
  • If you have an allergy to adhesives, patch ingredients or skin problems. You may be more likely to get rashes with patch use.
  • If you are using non-nicotine stop smoking drugs like Chantix® or Zyban.
  • Experience nausea or vomiting while using the nicotine patch. This may be a sign of nicotine overdose.
  • Are taking prescriptions for depression or asthma. Your dose may need to be adjusted.


  • Skin reactions are the most common side effect of the nicotine patch. Skin reactions are usually mild and last from 15 to 60 minutes. Itching or burning may occur at the site. Change the location of the patch to help reduce irritation.
  • Headache, vertigo, insomnia, somnolence (drowsiness).
  • Abnormal dreams. Remove the patch before sleep if the patch disturbs your sleep.
  • Muscle pain, joint pain, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and nervousness.
  • Anxiety, irritability, and depression may occur but are more often symptoms of nicotine withdrawal than the effects of the patch.
  • As with the nicotine gum and lozenge, the nicotine patch should be used in pregnancy only with the advice of your physician.


  • Nicoderm CQ Glaxo SmithKline Consumer - Dosage starts at 21 mg per day for 4 weeks, Then 14 mg per day for 2 weeks, then 7 mg per day for 2.
  • Habitrol Dosage starts at 21 mg per day for 4 weeks, Then 14 mg per day for 2 weeks, then 7 mg per day for 2 weeks.