The methylphenidate patch contains a stimulant, but it has effects that are opposite from what would be expected of a stimulant. While stimulants (like caffeine) can cause hyperactivity, the methylphenidate patch has a calming effect. While it is not known exactly how the methylphenidate patch produces a calming effect, it is known that it affects certain chemicals in the brain (see Methylphenidate and D2 Receptors).
As the name implies, the methylphenidate patch is a skin patch containing the stimulant methylphenidate. The methylphenidate is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. After the methylphenidate patch is applied, it takes about two hours before the medicine begins to take effect. After the patch is removed, the effect slowly wears off.
Based on clinical studies, children with ADHD who used the methylphenidate patch had significant improvements in their ADHD symptoms (as measured by their teachers), compared to children with ADHD who did not use the patch. In these studies, it took about two hours after the patch was applied before the teachers noticed any effect.
Some general considerations for when and how to use the methylphenidate patch include the following:
- The patch is applied once daily to the skin on the hip area.
- You should apply the methylphenidate patch about two hours before you would like it to start working, because it takes awhile for the medication to be absorbed from the skin.
- The patch should be worn for approximately nine hours in most cases, although your healthcare provider may recommend wearing it for less time, especially if it is causing insomnia.
- The patch should be applied to clean, dry skin that is not irritated or damaged. Try to switch hips each day.
- Never apply heat to the methylphenidate patch. This includes heating pads, electric blankets, and water beds.
- Do not ever cut the patch. This will result in much too high of a dose.
- After sticking the patch in place, firmly press it with your hand for a full 30 seconds (this helps the patch to stick better). Make sure the edges are fully attached.
- After it is in place, bathing, swimming, and showering usually will not cause any problems with the patch.
- If a methylphenidate patch falls off too early, apply a new patch (on the other hip), but still remove this patch at the regular time.
- To dispose of a removed methylphenidate patch, fold it in half so that it sticks to itself, then throw it away in a safe place or flush it down the toilet (do not flush the patch if you have a septic system). This helps prevent anyone (such as young children) from accidentally coming into contact with the medicine.
- For a methylphenidate patch to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. The patch will not work if you stop using it.
(Click Daytrana Patch Problems for more information about what to do about specific problems you may experience with the methylphenidate patch.)