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Allergic Reactions to Nicotine Patches

author image Tammy Dray
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.
Allergic Reactions to Nicotine Patches
Nicotine patches can be dangerous to some people. Photo Credit: choness/iStock/Getty Images

Nicotine patches can help you kick the cigarette habit and abandon smoking forever. When you’re trying to quit smoking, nicotine patches can help ease withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, cravings, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Despite being helpful, the patches can also cause a number of side effects, including allergic reactions.

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Allergic to Adhesive

Some people might be allergic to the adhesive used to keep the patch stuck to the skin. If you have sensitive skin, try applying the patch on different areas until you find one that doesn’t react to the adhesive. Although the upper arm is a popular area for the patch, you don’t have to apply it there. Try your upper thigh, your hip or your chest to see if your skin in those areas reacts better.

Allergic to Nicotine

If you’re already a smoker, chances are you’re not allergic to nicotine. The patch can cause you to absorb too much nicotine at once, which in turn could cause an allergic reaction. A common reason this happens is when people use the patch but keep smoking. Nicotine patches come in different strengths, so if you’re still smoking, tell your doctor so he can recommend the proper dosage. According to NetDoctor, you could absorb more nicotine than normal from the patch if you exercise. Exercising opens up the pores, so you might end up with more nicotine than expected in your blood.

Signs of a Skin Reaction

The most common signs of an allergic reaction are redness, itchiness and swelling of the area around the patch. Sometimes a rash develops on the arms or other parts of the body, even areas that are not close to the patch itself.

Serious Allergic Reactions

More serious allergic reactions can cause difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat or mouth. These could be dangerous, so consult your doctor right away if you experience breathing difficulties or if the allergic reaction gets worse over the course of hours or days. Wheezing, hives and difficulty swallowing are also signs of a serious allergic reaction.

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