On-line NicoDerm

Brand Name(s): Habitrol, NicoDerm, Nicotine transdermal system, Nicotrol, ProStep

Generic Name Nicotine Skin Patches

What are nicotine skin patches?

Nicotine (Nicotrol®, Prostep®, Habitrol®, Nicoderm®) helps people stop smoking. By replacing nicotine found in cigarettes, physical withdrawal effects are less severe. Nicotine patches are most effective when used in combination with a supervised stop-smoking program. Patches are most effective during the first six months of use. Do not use nicotine skin patches for more than 12 to 20 months, depending on your prescriber's advice. Generic nicotine skin patches are available.

NOTE: In some cases, Zyban® ( also known as bupropion), a precription medication, is used together with nicotine to help people stop smoking. You should only use Zyban® with nicotine skin patches or nicotine gum if these have been prescribed by your healthcare prescriber. Ask your prescriber for information and advice before purchasing any non-prescription nicotine products if you are currently on Zyban®. The use of the two medicines together requires special observation by your prescriber.

What should my health care professional know before I use nicotine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • angina
  • asthma
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • irregular heartbeat
  • overactive thyroid
  • pheochromocytoma
  • previous heart attack
  • stomach ulcers
  • an allergy to adhesive plasters or other skin problems
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to nicotine, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Nicotine patches are for use on the skin. Follow carefully the directions that come with the patches. Use exactly as directed. Find an area of skin on your upper arm, chest, or back that is clean, dry, greaseless, undamaged and hairless. Wash hands in water; do not use soap. Remove the patch from the sealed pouch. Do not try to cut or trim the patch. Using your palm, press the patch firmly in place for 10 seconds to make sure that there is good contact with your skin. Wash your hands with water only. Change the patch every day, keeping to a regular schedule. When you apply a new patch, use a new area of skin. Wait at least 1 week before using the same area again.

What if I miss a dose?

If you forget to replace a patch, use it as soon as you can. Only use one patch at a time and do not leave on the skin for longer than directed. If a patch falls off, you can replace it, but keep to your schedule and remove the patch at the right time.

What drug(s) may interact with nicotine?

  • bupropion
  • insulin
  • propoxyphene
  • propranolol
  • theophylline
  • warfarin

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including nonprescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from using nicotine?

Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • fainting or lightheadedness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations), chest pain
  • headache
  • hearing changes
  • increased saliva
  • nausea, vomiting
  • seizures (convulsions)
  • skin redness that lasts more than 4 days
  • skin rash or swelling
  • stomach pain
  • vision changes
  • weakness

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • constipation or diarrhea
  • flushing
  • increased appetite
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • irritability
  • joint or muscle ache
  • mild itching, burning, or tingling for the first hour after applying
  • sleep disturbance

What should I watch for while taking nicotine?

Do not smoke, chew nicotine gum, or use snuff while you are using nicotine skin patches. This reduces the chance of a nicotine overdose.

You can keep the patch in place during swimming, bathing, and showering. If your patch falls off during these activities, replace it.

When you first apply the patch, your skin may itch or burn; this should soon go away. When you remove a patch, the skin may look red, but this should only last for a day. Call your prescriber or health care professional if you get a permanent skin rash.

If you are a diabetic and you quit smoking, the effects of insulin may be increased and you may need to reduce your insulin dose. Check with your prescriber or health care professional about how you should adjust your insulin dose.

If you are going to have a MRI procedure, let your MRI technician know about the use of these patches. Some drug patches contain an aluminized backing that can become heated when exposed to MRI and may cause burns. You may need to temporarily remove the patch during the MRI procedure.

Where can I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children. Store nicotine in a safe place where children and pets cannot reach it. When you remove a patch, fold with sticky sides together; put in an empty opened pouch and throw away.

Store below 30 °C (86 °F). All nicotine products are sensitive to heat. Store in manufacturers packaging until ready to use. Protect from light. Throw away unused medicine after the expiration date.

(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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