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Transdermal Patches: Convenient, but Use with Caution

person putting transdermal patch on arm

Kristin Wenger, education coordinator for the Blue Ridge Poison Center, contributed this post. It's repurposed from The Antidote, the poison center's newsletter.

Do you have trouble swallowing pills? Do pills upset your stomach? If so, you might try a medicine patch. You wear this sticky patch, called a transdermal patch, on your skin for a prescribed amount of time. The patch releases medicine into your body through the skin. This slow, steady release of medicine gives you:

Types of Transdermal Patches

You can get many medications in patch form, including:

Transdermal Patch Safety

If you use a transdermal patch, take steps to avoid an accidental overdose and harmful side effects.

According to the FDA, one man died after his wife misunderstood the instructions and put 6 prescription pain relief patches on his body at once. Other people have gotten sick by forgetting they're wearing a patch and taking other medicines or substances, such as alcohol, that interact poorly with the patch medication.

You may also:

Having multiple caregivers taking turns changing your patch can also lead to mistakes.

Dump Those Outdated Drugs

Get rid of your old medicines by putting them in the safe take-back receptacles at our Lee Street and Zion Crossroads pharmacies.

How to Avoid a Drug Overdose

Transdermal patches are convenient, especially if you can't take pills. Follow these steps to prevent an overdose or other safety issues:

Keeping Patches Away from Kids & Pets

To a child, medical patches look like stickers or harmless bandages. Many reports tell stories of children finding patches and sticking them all over their body.

Children will also chew, suck, or swallow patches. One child stuck 6 medicine patches to the roof of her mouth. They can also discover a used patch in trash cans, which can have enough medicine still in it to cause harm.

Steps to protect kids and pets:

If you suspect a child has had contact with a patch, or swallowed one, call the Blue Ridge Poison Center right away. Don’t wait for symptoms. Call 1.800.222.1222 24/7.

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