Diabetes Planned Visit Notebook

36.8 Handout—Nicotine Patch

Summa Health System developed this fact sheet for patients who smoke tobacco. Care providers give it to patients during diabetes planned visits, and it is part of the Diabetes Planned Visit Notebook. 

Information from Your Family Doctor

Family Medicine Center of Akron Summa Health System

Nicotine Patch

Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking. The nicotine patch your doctor has recommended will help make it easier to quit. The instructions in this handout 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.


If you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, follow the 10-week plan.Use Step 1 (21 mg) for 6 weeks, Step 2 (14 mg) for 2 weeks, and Step 3 (7 mg) for 2 weeks.*

If you smoke 10 or less cigarettes a day, follow the 8-week plan. Use Step 2 (14mg) for 6 weeks and Step 3 (7mg) for 2 weeks.*

*Taken from the Nicoderm CQ internet site- Dosage may vary by brand. Please check your package instructions.

How do I apply the Nicotine patch?

Step 1: Do not remove the patch from its sealed protective pouch until you are ready to use it. The nicotine patch will lose nicotine to the air if you store them out of the pouch.

Step 2: Choose a non-hairy, clean, dry area of skin. Make sure your skin is free of lotion or soap. Do not put a nicotine patch on skin that is burned, broken out, cut or irritated in any way.

Step 3: A clear, protective liner covers the sticky side of the nicotine patch the side that will be put on the skin. The liner has a slit down the middle to help you remove it from the patch. With the sticky side facing you, pull half the liner away from the nicotine patch starting at the middle slit. Hold the nicotine patch at one of the outside edges (touch the sticky side as little as possible), and pull off the other half of the protective liner. Place this liner in the slot in the disposal tray provided in the nicotine package where it will be out of reach of children and pets.

Step 4: Immediately apply the sticky side of the nicotine patch to your skin. Press the patch firmly on your skin with the heel of your hand for at least 10 seconds. Make sure it sticks well to your skin, especially around the edges.

Step 5: Wash your hands when you have finished applying the nicotine patch. Nicotine on your hands could get into your eyes and nose, and cause stinging, redness, or more serious problems.

Step 6: After 24 or 16 hours, remove the patch you have been wearing. Fold the used nicotine patch in half with the sticky side together. Carefully dispose of the used patch in the slot of the disposal tray provided in the nicotine package where it will be out of the reach of children and pets. Wash your hands.

Step 7: Choose a different place on your skin to apply the next nicotine patch and repeat Steps 1 to 6. Do not apply a new patch to a previously used skin site for at least one week.

What do I need to tell my doctor?

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) from the patch. Signs of an overdose may include dizziness, upset stomach, bad headaches, vomiting, cold sweats, drooling, confusion, blurred vision, hearing problems, weakness or fainting. If problems happen, 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.

Community Resources:

Consider taking a free quit smoking class: call 330-861-7179 for list of free local classes or call the Ohio Quit line at 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669) for support. These programs can help you with the habit part of smoking. Quitting may take practice, not everyone can quit the first time.

People who choose to call the Ohio Quit Line or take a quit smoking class are 5 times more likely to succeed than those who try to quit on their own.

Adapted from the handout "Nicotine Patch" Copyright© 2000-2005 American Academy of Family Physicians
Permission is granted to print and photocopy this material for nonprofit educational uses Reviewed/Updated: 08/05

Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created January 2008
Internet Citation: 36.8 Handout—Nicotine Patch. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/education/curriculum-tools/diabnotebk/diabnotebk368.html