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How to use a patch*

A patch is used to deliver medication through your skin into your bloodstream. While you wear a patch it provides a steady flow of medication into your body.

Find an appropriate place to put the patch:

  • Choose a dry, unbroken, non-hairy part of your skin. The buttocks, lower abdomen, lower back, and upper arm (outer part) are good choices. If the area you choose has body hair, clip (do not shave) the hair close to the skin with scissors. For women: If you are using a patch containing any type of estrogen (such as estradiol-17β, found in medications such as Climara® or Estraderm®) or nicotine (such as Nicoderm® or Habitrol®), do not apply it to your breasts.
  • Make sure that the area is clean. If there is any oil or powder (from bath products, for example), the patch may not stick properly.
  • Do not put the patch on skin that is burned, broken out, cut, irritated, or damaged in any way. If you need to clean the skin where the patch will be applied, use only clear water. Soaps, oils, lotions, alcohol, or other products may irritate the skin under the patch.

Attach the patch to your skin:

  • Remove the patch from its package. Do not do this until right before you are ready to use the patch.
  • A stiff protective liner covers the sticky side of the patch – the side that will be put on your skin. Hold the liner at the edge and pull the patch from the liner. Try not to touch the adhesive side of the patch. Throw away the liner.
  • Attach the adhesive side of the patch to your skin in the chosen area.
  • Press the patch firmly on your skin with the palm of your hand for about 30 seconds. Make sure the patch sticks well to your skin, especially around the edges. If the patch does not stick well or loosens after you put it on, tape the edges down with first aid tape.
  • Wash your hands after applying the patch.

Wear the patch for the prescribed amount of time:

  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out how often your patch should be changed. Some patches have special labels to help you remember when to change to a new patch.
  • Contact with water, when you are bathing, swimming, or showering, should not affect the integrity of the patch. Very hot water or steam may loosen the patch. In the unlikely event that a patch should fall off, a new patch must be applied for the remainder of the time you are required to wear the patch (as instructed by your doctor).
  • If you are having patches fall off regularly, this could be happening as a result of using bath oil, using soaps with a high cream content, or using skin moisturizers before applying the patch. Patches may stick better if you avoid using these products. If you would like to use skin moisturizers, apply the patch first, then use the lotion on areas not covered by the patch.
  • Some patches should not be exposed to heat while you are wearing them, as this increases the rate at which the drug enters your body. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see whether your patch should not be exposed to heat.

After wearing the patch for the prescribed period of time, remove the patch and throw it away:

  • Be sure to throw away the patch so that it is safely out of the reach of children or pets (e.g., by folding it in half so that the adhesive side sticks together and flushing it down the toilet). The adhesive and the medication remaining in the patch could seriously harm a child or pet.
  • Any adhesive from the patch that might remain on your skin can be easily rubbed off.

Apply a new patch:

  • Repeat steps 1 to 4 for the new patch. The new patch should be placed on a different skin site. Contact your doctor or pharmacist to find out how long you should wait before using the same skin site again. Before applying a new patch, make sure you have removed the old one.

How to look after the patch

  • Store the patch in its protective package at temperatures below 30°C.
  • Apply the patch immediately after you remove it from its protective package.
  • Keep out of the reach of children and pets before and after use.
  • Do not cut the patch in half. This will cause the drug to leak out. This would be unsafe (as you could end up receiving too much medication) and prevent the patch from working properly. If for some reason, the patch is punctured and the contents leak onto your hands, rinse them thoroughly with water.

*Many different medications come in patch form. This information is intended to provide general instructions for the use of a patch. Instructions may vary for different products. If these instructions are different from those given by your doctor or pharmacist, check with your doctor or pharmacist to confirm how you should be using the product. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for specific information about your particular medication, such as how often the patch needs to be changed, or whether the patch should be removed for certain activities such as exercise.

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