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What does it do?

Fentanyl patches are used to relieve strong pain.

How should you use it?

Use fentanyl patches regularly as directed. Apply the patch to a clean, dry, hairless area of skin every 3 days. When you have removed the old patch, apply the new one in a different place to prevent irritating your skin. Do not cut the patch.

What if you forget a dose?

If you forget to change the patch, remove the old patch and apply a new one as soon as possible.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with fentanyl including:

  • sedating antihistamines (e.g. Phenergan®)
  • cough suppressants (e.g. Duro-Tuss®, Benadryl Dry Forte®)
  • some migraine medicines, such as sumatriptan (e.g. Sumagran Active®) or zolmitriptan (e.g. Zomig®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products (e.g. valerian) or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Slow or shallow breathing, hard to wake up, change in heartbeat

Tell your doctor immediately


Confusion, agitation, hallucinations, mood swings

Tell your doctor

Drowsiness, tiredness or weakness, headache, trouble sleeping

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach upset

Dry mouth or throat, changes in vision, trouble peeing

Swollen feet or legs


Red or itchy skin where patch has been applied

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have lung, bowel, liver, kidney or heart problems or have had a recent head injury.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • If fentanyl patches are not relieving your pain contact your health professional – your dose may need changing.
  • Fentanyl patches may be used with other pain relievers (e.g. morphine, oxycodone).
  • While wearing the fentanyl patch avoid exposing it to heat (e.g. heat pads, hot water bottles, electric blankets or spa pools).
  • Dispose of fentanyl patches by folding the patch in half with the sticky sides together. Make sure to dispose of it out of the reach of children.
  • Fentanyl may be addictive with long-term use.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. May 2021

For more general information about this sheet annd its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed