nicotine-patches-otc-image.jpgCan You Buy Nicotine Patches Over the Counter?

Quitting your smoking habit can be difficult. There are different products that you can try, and some might work better than others. You might also deal with some cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make it hard to completely quit smoking. However, there are some nicotine replacement therapy products that can help you manage your symptoms. One of these products is the nicotine patch. Keep reading to find out how a nicotine patch works and if using a nicotine patch is a method that you should try using while on your journey to quit smoking.

How Do Nicotine Patches Work?

Nicotine is a chemical that is found in tobacco plants. Smoking cigarettes, and other products that contain nicotine, can increase your addiction to the product and make it hard for you to quit the habit.

The nicotine patch is a type of nicotine replacement therapy that is applied directly to your skin.1 You can apply it to a specific area of your body, like your chest, arm, or hip, and should apply one new patch every 24 hours on dry, clean, and hairless skin.1 You should apply the patch directly to the skin on the your upper chest and wear the patch continuously for 16 or 24 hours.1 Depending on the patch’s directions, you can even bathe while wearing it.1

The nicotine patch can help you stop smoking by providing you with a low amount of nicotine that you would usually get from smoking cigarettes.2 Nicotine is absorbed from the patch and enters your blood stream, replacing the nicotine you’d get from smoking and making your withdrawals less severe.2

The nicotine patch typically comes in three strengths: 7 mg, 14 mg, and 21 mg.3 The strength you should use depends on how many cigarettes you usually smoke in a day.3

Are Nicotine Patches a Method You Should Try to Stop Smoking?

If you are trying to quit smoking, nicotine patches might help reduce the withdrawal symptoms you experience. Some withdrawal symptoms you might experience when you start your quit smoking plan are:5

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Cravings to smoke cigarettes

If you experience certain health concerns you should stop use and consult with your doctor. These health concerns include:1,4

  • Allergies to adhesive tape or have skin problems
  • Heart disease, recent heart attack or irregular heartbeat
  • Stomach ulcers or diabetes
  • History of seizures
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Pregnant
  • Breastfeeding

If you have trouble falling asleep or have bad dreams while wearing the patch, sleep without the patch.5

You should always follow the product’s directions when using the patch. There are some possible side effects that you might experience while your body adjusts to you using the nicotine patch. You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following symptoms in a severe or long-term manner:1

  • Skin redness caused by the patch does not go away after four days, or if your skin swells, or you get a rash
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations occur
  • You get symptoms of nicotine overdose such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness and rapid heartbeat
  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction (such as difficulty breathing or rash)

One of the most important things is not to smoke while wearing the nicotine patch.5 Smoking while wearing the nicotine patch can increase your risk of experiencing nicotine toxicity.5 Too much nicotine can also cause you to have heart issues and other health issues that can be fatal.5

If you continue to have a lot of smoking cravings while using the patch, you may not be using a strong enough dose.3 You can increase your chances of quitting smoking by participating in a behavioural support program while you’re using nicotine patches as well.6

Do You Need a Prescription for Nicotine Patches

You can buy nicotine patches without a prescription or you can have your health care provider prescribe the patch for you.6

" You can find nicotine patches, like NicoDerm CQ, over the counter at your local drug store and prices vary from brand to brand.5 You might also be able to purchase nicotine patches from online stores."

The price of nicotine patch products might vary depending on the brand and strength. You can find some coupons to help make the price more affordable. Some states allow Medicaid to cover the cost of nicotine patches as well.5

If you’re thinking about adding nicotine patches to your quit smoking plan, conduct your research on which strength you might need and what other steps you can add to your plan to succeed. NicoDerm CQ provides an 8 to 10-week program with unique Time Release Smart Control Technology that acts fast and helps control cravings all day long.7 The patches are divided into three steps based on their strengths. The number of cigarettes you smoke daily will influence in which NicoDerm CQ step you start the program.7 As you move through your quit, your body will get used to less and less nicotine.

  1. Nicotine Transdermal Patch. MedlinePlus. Accessed 09/21/21.
  2. Nicotine (Transdermal Route). Mayo Clinic. Accessed 09/21/21.
  3. How to Use Nicotine Patches. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 09/21/21.
  4. Nicotine (Transdermal Route): Before Using. Mayo Clinic. Accessed 09/21/21.
  5. Trying to Quit Smoking? Here’s What You Should Know about the Nicotine Patch. University of Rochester Medical Center. Accessed 09/21/21.
  6. Nicotine replacement therapy. MedlinePlus. Accessed 09/21/21.
  7. NicoDerm CQ Products: Dosage and Steps. NicoDerm CQ. Accessed 09/21/21.