For parents whose ADHD children have trouble swallowing pills, or who want to avoid the stigma of taking medication at school, the Daytrana transdermal patch may be a good option. It saves parents the hassle of crushing a tablet, mixing it with food, and hoping a child will swallow all of their ADHD medication.
What’s more, the Daytrana patch can be conveniently removed on days when a child does not need medication for long periods of time. Since the patch hit the market, in 2006, parents have had questions about how it works, its effectiveness and benefits, and its side effects, as well as how to apply it. Here’s what parents should know about this ADHD medication.
The Daytrana patch contains methylphenidate, the same stimulant medication found in Ritalin, Concerta, Focalin, and other commonly prescribed ADHD medications. But its delivery system is different.
With pills, the medication is ingested, released in the digestive system, and absorbed into the bloodstream. With the patch, the medication passes directly through the skin, and is absorbed into the bloodstream without going through the digestive system. Each area of the patch contains the same amount of medication. The patch is available in several different doses. You can also adjust the dose by wearing the patch for shorter or longer periods of time.
Before attaching the patch, be sure the area of the hip that you apply it to is clean and dry. Avoid putting it at the waistline, since the patch may be dislodged by clothing rubbing against it. When putting on the patch, firmly press it with your hand for 30 seconds, being sure the edges fully adhere. Tell your child not to play with the patch during the day.
The Daytrana patch comes in 10, 15, 20, and 30 mg. dosages. (Each number represents the number of milligrams released over nine hours.) The 10 mg. patch releases 1.1 mg. of methylphenidate per hour and contains 27.5 mg. per patch; the 15 mg. patch delivers 1.6 mg. per hour and contains 41.3 mg.; the 20 mg. patch delivers 2.2 mg. per hour and contains 55 mg.; and the 30 mg. patch delivers 3.3 mg. per hour and contains 82.5 mg. of methylphenidate.
The manufacturer recommends that a child start with a 10 mg. patch. If this is not effective, the dose should be increased weekly until a doctor determines that the medication is reducing symptoms. The patch takes up to two hours to start working and can be worn for up to nine hours. The effects will continue for one to three hours after removing it. Although there haven’t been any large-scale studies conducted on the benefits and risks of treating adult ADHD with Daytrana, the patch should also work for teens and adults with the condition.
Disposing of the patch correctly is as important as applying it correctly. To prevent young children from accidentally coming into contact with the medicine, fold it in half, so that it sticks to itself, and throw it away in a safe place.
Now that I’ve covered the basics, I’ll address questions from ADDitude readers.
Q: Are the side effects of the patch the same as those of a pill?
A: Yes. An ADHD child may lose his appetite and have difficulty going to sleep, and may develop headache, stomachache, and tics. As with methylphenidate pills, a child may experience irritability, anger, and flatness of personality if the dose is too high. There are also side effects unique to the patch—skin irritation and/or a rash at the site of the patch.
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