Chapter 4: Administering meds
Applying medicine patches
Applying a medicine patch
Several types of medications are given in a patch form. These are often easier to give, but there are several things to keep in mind for safety, comfort, and effectiveness. Click on each phrase to read more information.
Many factors can contribute a patch not sticking well to skin. Individual skin characteristics, such as oiliness or sweat, may interfere with adhesion. A particular brand of patch may not be suited to an individual; in that case, it may be worth trying a patch manufactured by another company.
Tips to optimize patch adherence:
Choose the area of skin where you will be placing the patch; it should be a flat surface on the upper torso (back or front), arms, or thighs where skin movement is limited.
Avoid areas where the skin wrinkles or folds with body movement.
To avoid skin discomfort, choose a different area from where the previous patch was adhered.
Do not put a patch on broken, irritated, or scarred skin, or on areas affected by radiation treatments. These things can affect adherence and absorption.
Avoid hairy, swollen, or bony areas. If possible, place the patch on an area where there is some extra tissue (fat), which helps with absorption
Trim any hair with scissors. Avoid shaving the area prior to application of the patch.
Clean the area with water and allow to dry completely.
Avoid the use of soaps, cleansers, oils, lotions, alcohol,
or other things that might interfere with adhesion, irritate the skin, or change
how well the drug is absorbed by the skin. While most people should avoid
alcohol-based products, people with oily skin have reported success if they first
gently clean skin with isopropyl alcohol, then wash the area well with water to
remove any alcohol, and make sure skin is completely dry before applying the
Avoid the use of “skin prep” or similar products that make a barrier on the skin that can interfere with absorption of medication.
However, in cases where patch adherence has been difficult, some individuals have reported success with cleansing the area with water, allowing to it dry, then carefully applying “skin prep” just to the area where the adhesive border of the patch will be (but not to the skin that will be in contact with the medicated area of the patch).
Wearing protective gloves and while the patch is still in its wrap, warm it by holding it between the palms of your hands for a few seconds before applying.
Press the patch firmly in place with the palm of your hand (wearing protective gloves) for 30 seconds. Make sure that contact is complete around the entire edge of the patch. The contact adhesive is pressure sensitive, and the warmth of your hand activates the contact adhesive.
Avoid placing a dressing over the patch because it may apply pressure and change drug release. This advice may be different depending on the type and manufacturer of the patch. Ask your pharmacist to review specific directions with you.
A medicine patch contains medication that may be very strong, and some medication may still remain on the patch when you remove it. It is essential that you wear protective gloves while preparing, applying, and removing a medicine patch. Ask a pharmacist for instructions about where and how to dispose of used patches.
Watch the video for a demonstration and for tips on applying and using a medicine patch. Helpful resources