4 simple recommendations to apply a transdermal patch

By following the medical indications and these tips, the transdermal patch will provide the optimal performance for therapeutic treatment.

Transdermal patches are pressure-sensitive adhesives that release a pharmacological compound in a controlled manner. To achieve their correct functioning we suggest you consider these recommendations:

  • Guarantee adherence
  • Hygienize the area properly
  • Be constant in application
  • Avoid expose it to heat

When using transdermal patches, doubts arise about what to do and what not to do. For this reason, we have gathered in the following lines some precautions to take into account (and their fundamentals) so that the system has its therapeutic effectiveness. 

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A Brief Review about Transdermal Patches

Transdermal drug delivery is a method of applying the system to the skin so that the compound crosses the skin barrier and acts on tissues or organs directly. 

Within the transdermal drug delivery systems (TDDS) we find the patches that are pressure-sensitive adhesives. Their main advantages are:

  • Controlled and constant administration
  • Better bioavailability
  • Non-invasive
  • Easy application
  • Better patient compliance 

The transdermal patch is highly effective by simply following medical and laboratory instructions. If you follow general recommendations such as we tell you bellow, you will achieve optimal treatment performance.

1) Guarantee Adherence

In transdermal patches, wettability plays an important role in controlling drug release. A few hours after application of the system, the surface becomes wetted and controlled delivery begins through the porosity of the patch. It is thus key to achieve optimal adhesion of the patch. 

To achieve this it is important that you:

Choose well the area where you will place it

  • Be sure to place it in the area indicated on the package insert,
  • Do not apply it on joints (knees, hands or elbows),
  • Avoid areas of skin folds or where it rubs against clothing,
  • The dermis should be free of scars,
  • Make sure the skin is not irritated. Do not apply to areas where you have recently waxed, shaved or tattooed,
  • Do not apply on irradiated, sunburned or radiotherapy treated areas.

Prepare the skin and take care in handling

  • Wash your hands before applying or replacing the patch,
  • Apply on clean, dry and hairless skin. Before application, wash the area with soap and water and rinse very well,
  • Choose an area free of creams, oils, powders and moisturizing lotions.

Take the following precautions when applying the patch

  • When peeling off the patch to apply it, be sure not to touch the adhesive surface with your fingers,
  • Do not adhere the system twice in the same area,
  • When changing the patch, first remove the one you are going to remove and then peel off the adhesive side of the new one. 
  • Keep pressure on the patch for 30 seconds.
  • If you had problems in the adhesion, supplement only the edge with medical adhesive tape. Only on the edge, because covering all the patch surface will affect the release of the drug. 

2) Hygienize the area properly

The patches are water resistant, so you can bathe or shower without problems. We recommend using neutral PH soaps and gels to avoid reddening of the skin. 

When you wash the area, it is always better to use cold water.

Be careful not to scrub when washing the area, as this may affect the adhesion of the patch.

3) Be constant in application

The huge advantage of patches is its extended administration periods (from 12 hours to 7 days). In that time the system releases the drug in a controlled manner.

However, as with any treatment, for it to be effective it is necessary to be constant. 

A good strategy is to establish a routine about the day and time of replacement. To achieve this you can use the technology, use some app as a reminder or alarms on the cell phone. 

In case you forget to replace it at the right time, do it when you remember and continue the treatment as normal. If you omit to change it, do not put two patches together to compensate. Remember that the system has the right dose of the drug.

4) Avoid expose it to heat

As explained above, the patch releases the active ingredient with humidity. If we expose this area to too much temperature the process will be altered. Cause:

  • It accelerates the release of the drug by increasing humidity,
  • It could be released by generating sweating on the skin.

For this reason:

  • Do not expose the patch to the sun or direct heat,
  • Avoid using hot water bottles and electric blankets,
  • Do not take immersion baths in hot water or sauna. 

In summary, you can achieve transdermal patch greatest effectiveness if you: guarantee adherence, perform a correct hygiene of the area, being constant in the application and avoiding heat sources. These general recommendations added to the medical indications will be the key to an effective treatment.

Would you add any other advice to this list? We look forward to your comment in our social media.


  1. Jeong, W.Y., Kwon, M., Choi, H.E. et al. Recent advances in transdermal drug delivery systems: a review. Biomater Res 25, 24 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40824-021-00226-6
  1. Sharma, C. S., & Khandelwal, M. (2018). A novel transdermal drug-delivery patch for treating local muscular pain. Therapeutic delivery, 9(6), 405–407. https://doi.org/10.4155/tde-2018-0004
  1. Vázquez, Ángeles / Sanz, Elena / Gonzalez, Irene. 14 de Julio de 2019. “Parches transdérmicos: qué son, para qué sirven y recomendaciones de uso” https://www.tuvidasindolor.es/parches-transdermicos-que-son-para-que-sirven-como-se-ponen/

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