Medications work best if a person receives some type of support, either from a quit coach or medical professional.

Nicotine, the habit-forming drug in tobacco, is a stimulant, or mood lifter. When you give up smoking, you give up nicotine. You want cigarettes and may also have feelings such as being worried, angry, irritated, frustrated, restless, or have concentration problems. 

When you wear a nicotine patch, nicotine is steadily absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream, keeping an even, low-amount of nicotine in your body. This amount of nicotine is less than you would get from smoking, but it may be enough to keep you from wanting cigarettes or having other withdrawal symptoms.

Most Important Facts About Nicotine Patches

You should only use patches as part of a quit smoking program that also offers ways to change your smoking behavior through support. If you have not stopped smoking after four weeks of using nicotine patches, it is likely the patch treatment will not work for you.

Side Effects

The most common side effects are: itching and burning; and a rash, or redness of the skin in the place where the patch has been placed. 

Less common side effects of the patch are: abnormal dreaming; allergic reactions; back or chest pain; constipation; cough; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; headache; high blood pressure; impaired concentration; indigestion; inflammation of sinuses; menstrual irregularities; nausea; nervousness; numbness; pain; a pins-and-needles sensation; sleeplessness; sore throat; stomach pain; sweating; taste changes; tingling; vomiting; and weakness. It is important to see a doctor if you have any strong symptoms.

Special Warnings About Nicotine Patches

Do not use any form of tobacco while wearing a patch; you could overdose! Remember, nicotine stays in your body many hours after taking off the patch. Do not use a patch if you have had an allergic reaction to other patches or adhesive tape. 

Before you use any brand of nicotine patch, make sure your doctor knows if you have, or have ever had, any of the following: chest pain from a heart condition (angina); diabetes requiring insulin injections; heart attack; high blood pressure (severe); irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia); kidney disease; liver disease; overactive thyroid; skin disease; ulcers; or any other serious illness. 

The effects of nicotine patches can change if you are using other medications, so check with your doctor before using patches along with: Tylenol®; No Doz®; Dristan®; blood pressure medication; insulin; lithium; and many other drugs. Used patches can poison a child or pet. Throw away your used patch by placing it in its original wrapper or aluminum foil and throwing it away, out of the reach of children and animals.