Nicotine Patch Side Effects

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Nicotine patches are transdermal adhesives that users apply to the skin to introducing nicotine into the body. Nicotine patches are available over-the-counter at local pharmacies and other retailers. The patch helps people quit smoking cigarettes via nicotine replacement therapy (or NRT for short). The nicotine content helps to minimize symptoms experienced during nicotine withdrawal.

The most common side effects of nicotine patches include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, watering eyes and redness or swelling at the site of the patch. People who suffer from overactive thyroid, stomach ulcers, heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease may not be suitable candidates for nicotine patches.[1]


Flickr: goblinbox
Brand names Habitrol®, Nicoderm® C-Q, Nicotrol®, ProStep®[1]
Manufacturer Various
Uses Treats nicotine withdrawal[1]
Common side effects Headache and nausea[1]
Who should not take nicotine patch Active smokers, as there is risk of overdose[1]
Disclaimer The information provided by is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Do not take any action based on the information on this page without consulting a physician.
Author Susan MacDowell


Common Nicotine Patch Side Effects

The most side effects of nicotine patches are not serious, and include dizziness, runny stool, headache, upset stomach, and redness or swelling at the site where the patch is applied.[1]

Serious side effects of nicotine patches include seizures, severe rash or swelling, abnormal heartbeat, constricted breathing and chest pain.[1] Such severe nicotine side effects may result from nicotine overdose.

There are also side effects to quitting smoking, which are not caused by the patch. These include weight gain, irritability, headache and problems concentrating. The nicotine patch may help ease some of these symptoms.[2]

In most cases, the side effects of the nicotine patch or of quitting smoking are less severe than the effects of smoking cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes cardiovascular disease, emphysema and lung cancer, and may increase risk of infertility and reduced bone density.[3]

Drug Side Effects

Drug Side Effects

Nicotine Patch Allergic Reactions

Those using nicotine patches may be allergic to the active ingredient (nicotine), to the adhesive that makes it stick to the skin, or to inactive ingredients. Either allergy is uncommon. In rare but dangerous cases of nicotine patch allergies, users may experience skin rash, itching and swelling of oral areas, dizziness or breathing problems. Any of these symptoms is reason to seek out prompt medical help.[2]

Nicotine Patch Precautions and Warnings

  • Nicotine can cause harm to unborn children and pass into breast milk, causing possible harm to breastfed infants.[2]
  • Wearing a nicotine patch while receiving an MRI may cause the patch to burn the skin. This is due to aluminum content.[2]
  • Smoking or using other nicotine products while using nicotine patches can result in nicotine overdose. Signs of nicotine overdose include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, upset stomach and weakness.[4]
  • Medications for high blood pressure, water pills, caffeine and insulin may interact with nicotine patches.[1]
  • Extreme physical activity can cause more nicotine than usual to be released from the patch. This is due to elevated temperature of the skin.[2]
  • Exposing the treated area to hot or warm objects like heated blankets or sun lamps can cause too much nicotine to be transferred to the skin. The same applies to saunas, hot tubs and other hot conditions.[2]
  • Some nicotine patch users may experience vivid or unusual dreams. The manufacturer of Habitrol® nicotine patch recommends removing the patch at night to help alleviate this side effect.[4]
  • Leaving the same nicotine patch on for more than 24 hours may cause skin irritation. In addition, the patch is less effective after 24 hours of use.[4]
  • Patients taking asthma medications or antidepressants may need a dosage adjustment when starting the nicotine patch.[4]
  • The nicotine patch is not effective in helping all users quit smoking, and some smokers may need to seek out alternative methods if they cannot stop smoking on the patch.[4]


Also See: Drug Side Effects, Nicotine Patch Coupons, Chantix Coupons, Clonidine Side Effects, Wellbutrin XL Side Effects, Zyban Side Effects, Nicorette Side Effects



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