A nicotine patch looks like an oversized adhesive bandage. The outer part of the patch sticks to your skin, while the inner portion presses against and slowly releases nicotine into your skin. See a picture of how to use these patches to help you quit smoking or stop using smokeless tobacco.
Nicotine patches are usually sold in kits that contain enough patches to get most people through the quitting process. Many brands come with different-sized patches containing different strengths of nicotine. For the first few weeks, use a large patch. Then use medium-sized patches for the next few weeks, and use the smallest patches—which contain the least nicotine—during the last few weeks. With other brands, you use the same size of patch every week then simply stop using the patch.
Nicotine patches are available in forms that supply a constant dose of nicotine for either 16 or 24 hours.
The 24-hour patch may cause sleep disturbance, such as difficulty sleeping or unusually vivid dreams. Removing the patch at about 8 p.m. may stop sleep problems.
Choosing the right patch strength is important to your success in quitting smoking. If you weigh more than 100 lb (45.36 kg), start with the highest dose patch. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more help choosing the right patch strength.
Use of nicotine patches usually lasts 8 to 10 weeks, but this can vary with the individual and the brand of patch.
How to use nicotine patches
Your chances of quitting may be increased if you use nicotine gum, inhalers, or lozenges or bupropion along with the patch. Do not do this unless you first talk with your doctor, because this approach requires medical supervision.
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