Using a Nicotine Patch
A nicotine patch helps you to cut down on withdrawal symptoms while you are trying to quit
smoking. It provides nicotine without the harmful effects you get from smoke. Yet, it is not a
“magic bullet.” It works best with help from a health care provider or the Wisconsin Tobacco
A patch may be most helpful to people who are very addicted to tobacco. This includes people
who smoke within a half hour after rising, have strong cravings while trying to quit, and/or
smoke at least a pack each day.
How do you use a nicotine patch?
ξ The patch can be used for up to 6 months before the target quit date with daily smoking
ξ Keep the patch sealed until you are ready to use it.
ξ Use only one patch at a time. Wear one 2 inch adhesive pad 16-24 hours a day.
ξ Apply it to a hairless part of the upper body.
ξ Rotate the site of the patch daily to avoid skin irritation.
ξ Over 6-12 weeks, the dose of the patch will be reduced.
ξ Always use the patch under medical supervision. Do not share with friends or use a
patch prescribed for someone else.
ξ Keep the patch out of reach of small children and pets.
What is the success rate for people using a patch?
Success rates vary. The patch is only part of what you do to quit smoking. If your main barrier
to quitting is fear of withdrawal symptoms, a patch can give you the help you need to get started.
The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) or the University of Wisconsin Hospital
and Clinics Learning Center (608-265-7667) can provide the extra help you need to succeed.
Can I get hooked on the patch?
Not if the patch is used properly. The patch helps to keep a steady level of nicotine in your
system. It should ease symptoms without addiction. It is used for 6 to 8 weeks.
Are there any side effects?
Yes. You may have trouble sleeping or notice a rash near the site of the patch. Though rare,
some people have diarrhea, nausea, nervousness, and aching muscles or joints. If you are
pregnant or have heart disease, talk to your doctor to see if the patch is safe for you.
Types of Nicotine Patches:
Nicoderm CQ, Habitrol, or Legend: 21, 14, or 7 mg 14 patches/box
Patches can be purchased over the counter, prescribed by your health care provider or received
free by calling the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW, 1-800-784-8669.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©3/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6141.