How To Use The Daytrana (methylphenidate) Patch

Daytrana (methylphenidate)

Daytrana is an adhesive patch formulation of methylphenidate (such as Concerta, Ritalin, Focalin). It is the first patch to be approved by the FDA for treatment of ADHD. Although the formal indication is for use in children 6-12 years of age it can be used in all age groups.

The approved wear time is for up to 9 hours, providing 12 hours of effective control of symptoms. Wearing time for the patch can be individualized so that it is removed 3 hours before you want it to wear off. This allows for up to 15 hours of effectiveness, i.e., 12 hours wearing time. Many patients leave the patch on for 24 hours. The effect wears off in 15 hours and sometimes sleep is better when leaving it on.


The studies for approval were done by applying the patch to the side of the upper leg, just below the waistline of the underwear. It probably works just as well on the abdomen (in women) or on the side of the arm.

It is essential that it is applied properly.  Half the backing is removed and that side of patch applied to the body. The skin must be clean, dry, and have no hair. Then the other half is removed and pressure is applied by the palm of the hand for 30 seconds.

The combination of heat and pressure will keep the patch firmly attached. Most people begin to notice an effect in one hour, but for some it takes 1 ½ to 2 hours. To speed up the rate of onset it may help to keep firm pressure on the patch for a full minute.


The patch is 10, 15, 20, & 30mg in strength. This refers to the amount of medication released during a 9 hour wearing time. If left on longer than 9 hours additional medication is released.  After 4-5 weeks of regular wear, absorption improves and up to twice as much medication is released.

This may result in better efficacy or may cause side-effects. In the event of side-effects the dose just needs to be reduced. Total dose should not exceed the maximum published dosing limits of 2mg per kg of body weight.

This translates to:

100kg = 220 pounds

50kg = 110 pounds

1 kg = 2.2 pounds

The medication is equally distributed throughout the patch. Although it’s not part of the formal FDA approval some patients report that cutting the patch in half and wearing on separate days works well.

Patients may wear 2 patches at one time when requiring a higher dose. It is recommended they both be put on the same side. The patch should be alternated between the left side and the right side. If any redness remains don’t put the patch on the red area but move it down or further back on the hip.

Each patch has 2 ¾ the total medication on the label.  This means that:

10mg has 27.5mg

15mg has 41.3mg

20mg has 55mg

30mg has 82.5mg

A unique feature of Daytrana is that after 4-5 weeks of regular use the absorption of medication improves and close to twice as much medication is released into the system.

If switching from Concerta 36mg, Daytrana 30mg was found to be equivalent.  After 4-5 weeks the dose of Daytrana may need to be reduced. 72mg of Concerta (2 x 36mg) may require 2 patches of 20-30mg initially but after 4-5 weeks one patch will be sufficient.

The patch sizes are:

1 ½ x 3 ½ inches(30mg)

1 ½ x 2 ½ inches(20mg)

1 3/8 x 1 7/8 inches(15mg)

1 3/8 x 1 3/8 inches(10mg)


Side-effects are the same as for all methylphenidate products except for possible skin irritation. In a large clinical trial only 7% discontinued due to side-effects and about ½ of those were due to skin irritation.

Other side-effects include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sadness/crying
  • Muscle twitches
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea

Most of the significant side-effects like muscle twitches, insomnia, irritability, and possibly even decreased appetite and stomach ache can be improved by reducing the dose. But if side-effects persist at the effective dose then Tenex (Guanfacine) ½ to 2mg once or twice daily can be very effective plus it also improves distractibility.

Most patients do not have any skin reaction or have mild redness that goes away quickly once the patch is removed. A small percent of people will have more marked redness that may persist for a few hours and a very few may develop a more significant localized skin allergic rash.


Remember that after 5 weeks the amount of medication released is almost double the dose on the label if worn for 9 hours and even higher if worn longer.

Because the patch provides up to 15 hours of effective symptom control and can be flexibly dosed to wear off within 3 hours when removed, it should be considered the first line form of methylphenidate in clinical practice. No other stimulant on the market provides more than 12 hours with single dosing and in ADHD it is hard to remember to take second and third doses of medication.

Note: If there are concerns about the possibility of growth delay – especially in children in the bottom quartile, Tenex can be given at bedtime. Clonidine is even stronger but is frequently too sedating. Tenex is also effective for the occasional person that has increased blood pressure from stimulants.

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5 Responses to “How To Use The Daytrana (methylphenidate) Patch”

  • marianne says:

    Dr. Jones,
    My question is basic: Changing from Adderall to Daytrauna patches.
    This child had finally found relief in some form with Adderall 90mg. The child states they are more focused and report cards give evidence to success in school.
    With starting Daytrauna 10mg qd : is it comparative to Adderall 90 mg effectiveness.
    I would assume you would need a higher dosage. I was giving instructions to to increase daily. First, day 10mg, Second day 15mg, Third day 20mg to a maximum 30mg is this typical in prescribing for 45 Kg. Is there harm in starting at a higher dose so the let down from Adderall would not be so significant?

    forward to your answer. Thanks.

  • Sharon says:

    Dr. Jones,

    Thanks for the great info on Daytrana. My 10 year old son (50 lbs) was on Daytrana 10 mg for about 2 weeks. This was his first ADHD medication. It was working well, but I got nervous after he got sick while playing soccer. I became concerned that the heat (90 degree day) and increase in body temp maybe caused too much medication to be released into his system. So, we switched him to Adderrall XR about 3 weeks ago. He’s been at 10 mg for about 2 weeks. But he says he felt more focused on Daytrana. He also has very little appetite on Adderall XR, has more rebound in the evenings and it lasts only about 9 hours. We are thinking about trying Daytrana again. We would take it off before he goes to soccer, but he has approx 20-30 minutes of recess and phys. ed outside during the school day. We live in Florida, so it gets to 90 degrees for a good part of the year. I was wondering if you could offer any insight about potential danger posed by the patch releasing too much medication, and if this is a concern during short durations (30 minututes) of activity during outdoor play in hot weather, particularly after the patch reaches doubles its release of medication after 4-5 weeks as you explained. Thanks!