Nicotine Patch – An alternative to smoking
Your friend decides to quit smoking as a good start to the New Year. Apparently, she starts to face withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, headaches and craving for nicotine, the main addictive drug found in cigarettes. You then suggest that she tries a nicotine patch. This is a substitute product, which is stuck to the skin like an adhesive bandage to release small doses of nicotine, and helps overcome the cravings and symptoms that a person trying to quit smoking initially experiences. A nicotine patch can be bought without a doctor’s prescription.
Using the patch
It is vital to read the instructions properly, prior to applying the patch, and it should be removed from the sealed pouch only when the person is ready to use it immediately. It should be applied to a clean, dry and hair-free area of the skin, which is free from any scars, cuts or other skin irritations. Higher body areas like upper arm, upper chest, stomach, hip or back are ideal. Press the patch firmly to make sure it is stuck properly and ensure it stays in place even when there is contact with water (showering or swimming). Remember to rinse the hands with water after application as any nicotine that enters the eyes or nose can cause stinging. Soap should be avoided while washing, as this only helps in more nicotine entering the skin. Depending on the brand of patch being used and the instructions provided, remove the patch after 16 or 24 hours and apply a new patch on a different area of the skin. An area that has been used should be reused only after a week. While removing a patch, care must be taken to dispose it by folding it in half with the sticky sides touching together. It is best to change the patch at the same time each day, and if there is a need to alter the time, remove the patch and put a new one. Thereafter, apply the patch at the newly set time each day. If a person experiences disturbed sleep when using a 24-hour patch, it can be removed prior to sleeping and a fresh one can be applied the next day.
The overall time frame for wearing a patch is 6 to 20 weeks, where most smokers use a full strength patch (15 to 22 mg of nicotine) everyday for 4 weeks and then a weaker patch (5 to 14 mg of nicotine) for another 4 weeks. Switching to a lower strength maybe considered after a couple of weeks, to reduce the withdrawal symptoms. In all cases, it is recommended to consult a doctor or pharmacist when any doubt regarding usage of the product arises.
Consulting the doctor
Prior to using a nicotine patch, consult a doctor or pharmacist in the following cases:
- Any allergies to adhesive tape or drugs
- Any medications being taken
- Heart problems
- Pregnancy related issues
- Diabetes, liver or kidney disorders
- Other health problems
In certain cases, side effects can be experienced such as:
Some people may get a rash at the site of application, which normally resolve or the patch can be moved to another area. A mild tingling or burning sensation on the skin that lasts for 15 minutes to 1 hour is normal. After removing a patch, the skin should not remain red for more than a day. Any side effects that are persistent should be bought to the doctor’s attention to rule out signs of an overdose. Smoking should be completely stopped while using a nicotine patch.
A nicotine patch should not be shared with others. Care should be taken while disposing used patches, so that children or pets in the vicinity do not come in contact with them. Store the product appropriately in the package it came in, at room temperature. Avoid using the patches for longer than 12 weeks if smoking has ceased completely, and consult a doctor for further usage. When certain medical procedures like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are being performed, the patch should be removed to prevent burning of the skin. Products such as the nicotine patch are approved for sale to persons 18 years and above. Anybody below 18 years of age, who wishes to quit smoking, must consult a healthcare professional prior to using such products. While visiting the hospital or getting admitted as a patient, ensure that the doctor is informed about using a nicotine patch and any other prescription or non-prescription medicines being taken. This will help avert an emergency situation.
Living a smoke-free life
It is always a challenge for a smoker to become a non-smoker and such smoking cessation products intend to help you quit the habit and start living a much healthier lifestyle. As a consumer, you must be well informed regarding the benefits and risks associated with such a product. A nicotine patch is one such over-the-counter product, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Taking the decision to stop smoking will be one of the most beneficial actions not only for you, but also for people living with you. Thus, a strong will power along with a nicotine replacement product (nicotine patch) will help you beat this addiction to smoking or nicotine.