Stopping smoking with Patches – how to use them correctly.

When you quit, the lack of nicotine in your body can cause withdrawal symptoms. Find out how nicotine patches can help you quit smoking.

Nicotine patches are available in forms that supply a constant dose of nicotine for either 16 or 24 hours by using a stepdown programme, from high to medium to low strength.

Because it takes a few hours for the nicotine in the patch to seep into the bloodstream, you might want to combat any immediate cravings with a piece of nicotine gum or a nicotine lozenge.

Within the first week of using the patch you’ll notice that your nicotine withdrawal symptoms will start to diminish. As you stick with your quit plan you should find that your cravings will lessen over time.

It takes a few months for breathing to get better and many people feel a little worse the first month. This is primarily because you are starting to clear a lot of gunk from your lungs also the nicotine withdrawal is probably making you a little more sensitive to your body.

Put the patch on clean, dry, hair-free skin on the upper body. Usual places to put the patch are the upper chest (avoiding the heart area, upper arm, shoulder, back, or inner arm. You can put the patch on thighs, too. Where possible, this same area should not be used for approximately 7 days.

You should wear the patch continuously for 16-24 hours depending on the specific directions inside your nicotine patch package. The patch may be worn even while showering or bathing.

Begin using the patch on the morning of your “quit” day, even if you are not able to stop smoking immediately. Leave the patch in its sealed storage pouch until you are ready to put it on.


Some of our customers complain about the application of patches which peel off after a short time. Here are several tips how to keep the patches in place:


  • To apply the patch, place the sticky side on your skin and press it firmly with the palm of your hand for 10 seconds.
  • Apply the patch to a dry, clean hairless area of your body that incurs minimal perspiration throughout the day.
  • If you have trouble getting the patch to stick, try to reinforce with fabric bandage (like Coban or other stretchy bandage material), medical tape or tegaderm film. It’s used by tattooists to protect fresh tattoos while they heal but it’s great for putting over patches and sticks well. You can get it on e-bay. Just cut a square a bit bigger than the patch (it comes on a roll and has lines on the back which makes it easy to cut evenly). It also comes as pre-cut squares, but these are more expensive.
  • Make sure there is no residues on skin.
  • Heat the patch still in the pack for a minute against a hot kettle or mug – just rubbing in your hands while still in the packet can have a similar effect and it is safer, then hold it still for a few minutes after application.
  • If a corner of the patch rises, put an ordinary Elastoplast over it. This sticks the corner of the NRT patch down again.
  • Cut thin strips of micropore tape and secure it around the edges, even stays on in shower and the bath.
  • Try putting them on lower stomach just above the hip and they stay in position. Also, best to avoid the stomach if pregnant.



If the patch loosens or falls off, replace it with a new one. When changing your patch, remove the patch carefully and dispose of it by folding it in half with the sticky sides touching. Then apply a new patch to a different part of your upper body. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

It’s common to have some trouble sleeping when you first quit smoking. This will get better, but if it is bothering you, talk with your healthcare provider to get help. If you become exhausted from poor sleep, this can make it harder to stay quit.

The 24-hour patch may cause sleep disturbance, such as difficulty sleeping or unusually vivid dreams. Removing the patch a few hours before you go to sleep may stop sleep problems.


Please note you can’t cut nicotine patch into smaller pieces because doing so might affect how this medication gets absorbed into your body. To get the full benefit of nicotine patch, apply one full patch to your body at a time.

Single NRT has been proven to be effective at helping people quit.  Dual therapy has been shown to be more effective than just using one product.

Our Stop Smoking Service can offer you telephone or face-to-face support appointments where you will discuss with an advisor your smoking / medical history, triggers and behaviours, as well as prescribing Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT – your patches are an example of this). Your advisor would then check in with you every couple of weeks for 12 weeks, to provide continued support and ensure that the medication is working correctly – all to give you the best chance of quitting. The advisor will help you to choose what products are best for you and monitor the use and progress of these products throughout.


They will also work with you to create a plan around quitting looking at behaviours and routines formed around smoking.  Through a combination of product and specialist support you are 3 times more likely to quit smoking.


Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any further assistance / provide further information on this matter and call us on 0800 013 0553.

In-depth information about NRT products and how to use them can be found here.







Olena Kovalenko

Public Health Officer

Tobacco Control and Stop Smoking Services