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Nicotine Adhesive: Know The Pros And Cons Of This Quit Smoking Treatment

Nicotine Adhesive: Know The Pros And Cons Of This Quit Smoking Treatment

Among the available methods for NRT, the nicotine patch has the highest adhesion, since it has fewer adverse effects and unpleasant. It consists of a patch that is placed on the skin on any part of the body (provided it has no hairs), and will release nicotine without interruptions for 24 hours, with the peak absorption between four and nine hours after contact with the skin .

For whom nicotine patch is indicated

In general Nicotine Replacement Therapy, which involves the nicotine patch, is used when the patient has high dependence, ie if the patient has scored above five in a specific test, called the Fagerström Test, or when there is a history of withdrawal when the person is deprived of the smoke. In general, using this therapy in people who smoke less than 10 cigarettes per day is controversial, but needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How nicotine patch works

The adhesive is placed on the skin anywhere of the body (provided it has no hairs). Then nicotine is released without interruption for 24 hours, with its peak absorption between four and nine hours after contact with the skin.

How to use the nicotine patch

The adhesive should be glued to the skin on a hairless region that is not exposed to the sun, and can be used for 24 hours, but a good tip is to place the sticker as soon as you wake up and then take it off to simulate the daily cigarette consumption cycle. When changing, it is necessary to glue the new one on another part of the body and repeat this ritual every day. Usually, it is indicated to put the stickers on the chest, and an interesting region is the back, as it is more hidden and there is no risk of sun exposure.

The usage scheme can vary from two to three months, depending on the intensity of the person's dependence. There are 21, 14 and 7 mg patch, and the most common is that the dose is reduced by 7 mg every 4 weeks, but this varies according to the tolerance to the withdrawal syndrome, which should be evaluated by the physician. However, there are general guidelines on how to use adhesives. People who scored between 8 and 10 points on the Fagerström Test or consume 20 or more cigarettes per day usually follow the treatment for 12 weeks with the following dosing regimen:

Weeks 1 to 4 = use of 21 mg patches

Weeks 5 to 8 = use of 14 mg patches

  • Weeks 9 to 12 = use of 7 mg patches
  • Those who scored between 5 and 7 points in the Fagerström Test or consume 10 or more cigarettes per day can take the treatment with eight weeks starting with a smaller dosage:
  • Weeks 1 to 4 = use of 14 mg patches

Weeks 5 to 8 = use of 7 mg patches

  • Expected results
  • A review reviewed in 2008 by the

Cochrane Collaboration

database (a renowned worldwide association of health professionals and researchers) found that people who used the nicotine patch succeeded in becoming cigarette-free after six months, the odds were two to three times higher than those who used placebos. Advantages and disadvantages of the nicotine patch The amounts of nicotine are controlled throughout the day when the patch is used, which allows more balance to the patient. Also, people do not feel any taste and people just need to remember it throughout the day.

Any Nicotine Replacement Therapy has the advantage of only replenishing nicotine, sparing the otherwise smoker from being in contact with other harmful substances of tobacco (such as tar), but reducing abstinence that nicotine is gradually reduced.

The disadvantage is the use of the patch throughout the day and the risks, although minimal, of having skin allergies.

Side effects

The most common side effect is the presence of skin irritations that can lead to the end of treatment, but this is very rare, according to experts.


For nicotine replacement only and in good quantities smaller than we found on cigarettes, there are no serious risks, since it is more responsible for smoking addiction than for the harm of smoking itself.

Precisely for this reason, there are not many contraindications for nicotine replacement therapies , like the nicotine patch, because continuing to smoke is always worse. Some experts claim that even people with heart disease and pregnant women can make use of these resources, even though there is no evidence that this type of treatment causes problems for the health of the fetus. However, new studies have shown the relationship between nicotine and the cancer. A study published in the scientific journal PLoS One in 2013 showed that the substance can alter the expression of the genes of the cells, making the appearance of the disease more likely. These findings may change the recommendation measures for this type of therapy.

Nicotine patch treatments

Nicotine gum Many times, even when the person wears the patch, they may show some withdrawal symptoms or cravings ( intense desire to smoke). In these cases the physician may recommend the use of 2 to 4 mg of nicotine gum for the worst moments of the symptoms, and up to 20 gums can be used per day.

Bupropion In other cases, when the patient is very dependent on nicotine, the physician can combine nicotine replacement therapies with drug treatment using bupropion. The medicine also reduces the urge to smoke and can be taken for up to three months, but can only be bought with a prescription.

Who can indicate the nicotine patch

Nicotine patches can be purchased at the pharmacy without a prescription. But the ideal is that the treatment is guided by a doctor, so he can combine other strategies and choose the best method for your case, according to your history and degree of dependency.


Pulmonologist Luiz Carlos Correa da Silva (CRM-RS 4414), member of the Tobacco Commission of the Brazilian Society of Pulmonology and Tisiology (SBPT) and the advisory council of the Tobacco Control Alliance (ACTBr)

Psychologist Sabrina Presman, Brazilian Association of Alcohol and Other Drug Studies (ABEAD)

Book "Smoking: Disease that has treatment" (Editora ArtMed), organized by pulmonologist Luiz Carlos Côrrea da Silva

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