Scopolamine skin patch for nausea Transderm Scop

Authored by Mr Michael Stewart, 01 Mar 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr John Cox, 01 Mar 2017

Follow the directions on the label or pack.

For motion sickness, apply the patch to the skin behind your ear four hours before your journey starts.

Scopolamine may make you sleepy. If this happens, do not drive and do not use tools or machines.

Type of medicineAn anti-emetic medicine
Used forPrevention of motion sickness; prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting
Also calledTransderm Scop®
Available asSkin patch

Motion sickness is quite common. It can occur when travelling by car, boat, airplane or train. It is particularly common in children. It is caused by repeated unusual movements of the head. Movements such as going over bumps or around corners send lots of messages to your brain. The balance mechanisms in your inner ear feel different signals to those that your eyes are seeing. This sends your brain confusing messages and is what makes you feel sick (nauseous). Scopolamine (also known as hyoscine) works by preventing the confusing messages going to your brain.

Scopolamine is available for use in adults, as a skin patch called Transderm Scop®. You stick the patch on to the skin behind your ear four hours prior to your journey, and then remove it at the end of the journey. The patch releases scopolamine through your skin and into your bloodstream.

Scopolamine skin patch is also used to prevent nausea and vomiting from occurring after surgery and when anesthetics or opiate painkillers (eg, morphine) have been used. The patch should be applied 24 hours prior to surgery and removed 24 hours after surgery.

One of the other effects of scopolamine is that it causes a dry mouth. It is sometimes prescribed by physicians for this reason, rather than to prevent nausea. 

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking scopolamine it is important that your physician knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are unwell and have a high temperature.
  • If you have digestive system problems such as reflux disease, diarrhea, or ulcerative colitis.
  • If you have an eye condition called glaucoma.
  • If you have high blood pressure, a fast heart rate, or any other heart problems.
  • If you have problems with your liver, kidneys or prostate gland.
  • If you have epilepsy or have had fits (seizures) in the past.
  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have Down syndrome.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about scopolamine, including how to apply the patch and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from using it.
  • Use scopolamine patches exactly as your physician tells you to.
  • If you are using Transderm Scop® for motion sickness, apply one patch to the skin just behind your ear four hours prior to the start of your journey and remember to remove it after your arrival. The effect of the patch can last up to 72 hours, so it is suitable for people taking long journeys. 
  • If you have been prescribed the patch to prevent nausea and vomiting following surgery, apply the patch 24 hours prior to your surgery. The patch should be removed 24 hours after your surgery has finished. If they do not already know, tell the person carrying out your surgery that you are wearing the Transderm Scop® patch.
  • Remember to wash your hands after handling the patches, and also it is important to wash behind your ear after you have removed the patch. This is to make sure you remove any remaining traces of scopolamine from your skin.
  • Scopolamine can make you sleepy, and you may still feel sleepy the following day. If this happens, do not drive and do not use tools or machines. Also, avoid drinking alcohol whilst wearing the patch, as this will increase the feelings of sleepiness.
  • When you buy any medicines, you should always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take alongside your other medicines. 
  • Other things which can help to prevent motion sickness are:
    • Looking out of a window or sitting with your head tilted slightly backwards.
    • Taking regular breaks in your journey to have some fresh air and drink some cold water.
    • Breathing deeply and slowly while you listen to music.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with scopolamine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. Speak with your physician or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common scopolamine side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Feeling sleepy or dizzyDo not drive and do not use tools or machines until you feel well again. Do not drink alcohol whilst wearing the patch
Problems with your eyesight, such as sensitivity to light, or blurred visionWearing dark glasses may help with light sensitivity. Do not drive and do not use tools or machines unless you can see clearly
Dry mouthTry chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free candy
ConstipationEat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Feeling flushed and hotTry to keep cool and drink plenty of water so that you do not develop a lack of fluid in the body (dehydrate)
Problems passing urine, dry skinIf troublesome, speak with your physician

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your physician or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else has taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the emergency room of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having surgery or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Ask your pharmacist about ways to dispose of medicines safely in your local area.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading and references

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