Keeping Duragesic (Fentanyl) Patches On

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide December 26, 2009
  • While fentanyl patches can be very effective for relieving chronic pain, sometimes keeping them from falling off presents quite a challenge.  Since how to keep these patches on is a question that comes up here repeatedly, I've done some research and compiled what seems to be the best recommendations from other patients who have grappled with this issue.

    The patch manufacturers recommend that you clean the area with water, let it dry, then apply the patch.  Unfortunately, that doesn't work for everyone.  The location of the patch, natural skin oils, perspiration and body hair are all factors that may contribute to your patch not sticking well. 


    The first thing to try is to make sure when you first put the patch on, you apply firm pressure for at least one full minute so the adhesive has a chance to warm up and establish a good bond with your skin.  If you're doing that and your patches are still not sticking, what else can you do?

    Brand Name Duragesic Patch Users

    If you use the brand name Duragesic patches made by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, you're in luck because they will send you, for free, Bioclusive transparent dressings (clear adhesive bandages) – also called coverlets –  that fit over your Duragesic patch and adhere well.  Just call the toll-free number on the box of patches.  When you receive the coverlets, you will also get a 3x5 card so you can reorder when your supply gets low.  As long as you are using the Duragesic brand patches, they are free.        

    Other patients who have called for the coverlets offer two suggestions you should be aware of before you call:

    • If you tell them that the Duragesic patches caused any kind of skin irritation or itch, even if only for a short time, they will note that in your file and will not send you any coverlets. 
    • You will be asked what other methods you have tried to make the patches stick.  They will ask you to try using athletic tape before they will agree to send you the coverlets.  So, to save yourself time and another phone call, try using some athletic tape first. 


    Generic Fentanyl Patch Users

    If you are using one of the generic fentanyl patches, here are four sticking options you might consider:

    1.  You can still use the Bioclusive transparent dressings, but you will have to pay for them yourself.  They tend to be rather expensive, ranging from 50 cents to $2 each, depending on the size needed.  A Google search on the word Bioclusive will turn up a number of suppliers, or check with your local pharmacy. 

    2.  Skin-Prep is a product used for colostomy patients.  It prepares the skin for adhesives and helps provide a strong bond to the skin.  The problem is, you have to be very careful to only get the Skin-Prep on the part of your skin where the adhesive edges will be.  If you get it on the area where the transdermal portion of the patch will be, it will block the release of the medication.  Skin-Prep is available as wipes or as a spray.  I think it would be much easier to control precise application with the wipes. 


  • 3.  The literature that comes with your patch may tell you not to use isopropyl alcohol to clean the skin where the patch is to be applied because it leaves a residue on the skin that can interfere with the release of the medication.  However, isopropyl alcohol is the best way to get oil off the skin.  So if skin oils seem to be the reason your patches are not adhering, try cleaning the area with isopropyl alcohol, then rinsing it with clear water to remove the residue before you apply your patch. 


    4.  Other patch wearers have reported using various kinds of tape to help their patches stay on, including clear first-aid tape, athletic tape and waterproof bandages. 

    All in all, the Bioclusive transparent dressings appear to be the best solution by far if you can afford them, or better yet if you can get them for free. 

    If you've found any other methods that have helped you keep fentanyl patches on, please click “Comments” below and share your tips.