Daytrana (Methylphenidate) - Transdermal

What Is Daytrana?

Daytrana (methylphenidate) is a transdermal prescription medication used to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is approved for children and adolescents ages 6 to 17.

As a transdermal drug, Daytrana is given in the form of a patch that attaches to the skin, allowing the medication to seep into the bloodstream.

Daytrana belongs to a group of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) brain stimulants and works by increasing certain chemicals in your brain.

CNS stimulants increase alertness, attention, energy, and physical activity. They can also raise blood pressure and increase heart rate and breathing rates.

As such, while other branded and generic versions of methylphenidate (the primary ingredient present in Daytrana) exist in the form of tablets, or extended-release (ER) capsules (these are referred to as "oral" forms of administration), this article will discuss Daytrana as a transdermal, or topical product.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Methylphenidate

Brand Name(s): Daytrana

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Transdermal

Therapeutic Classification: CNS stimulant

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Methylphenidate hydrochloride

Dosage Form(s): Patch

What Is Daytrana Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Daytrana to control the symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents 6 to 17 years old. Daytrana may help improve attention and decrease impulsive or hyperactive behaviors.

ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood.

People with ADHD may have trouble paying attention or controlling impulsive behaviors.

ADHD presents itself in three different ways, depending on which types of symptoms are strongest in the individual:

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation: The person fidgets and talks excessively. Often, it is hard for this person to sit still for long. Smaller children may run or climb constantly. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with such impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
  • Predominantly inattentive presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, pay attention to details, or follow instructions or conversations.
  • Combined presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

In addition to genetics, other possible causes and risk factors include:

  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Brain injury
  • Exposure to environmental risks (e.g., lead poisoning) during pregnancy or at a young age

Daytrana should be used as one part of a treatment program for ADHD, which may also include counseling, behavioral interventions, and environmental changes.

How to Take Daytrana

Daytrana is a transdermal patch that you apply to your hip. You should apply Daytrana two hours before the effects are needed and remove Daytrana after nine hours. You will still notice the effects of Daytrana for a few hours after removing the patch.

You can remove Daytrana sooner than nine hours if you don't need the effects for that long. You may also remove the patch sooner if you notice side effects, such as trouble sleeping or a loss of appetite, later in the day. 

Your prescription will come with a Daytrana dosing chart to help you keep track of when you applied your patch and when it's time to remove it. 

Daytrana should be applied to clean, dry skin on the hip area. Avoid using lotion, oil, or powder in the treatment area since this can affect how well the patch sticks. Be sure there is no irritation, redness, small bumps, or itching where you will apply Daytrana.

Do not apply Daytrana under waistbands since tight clothing can cause the patch to rub off. 

Follow the directions that come with your prescription for removing the protective liner and applying the patch to your skin. After applying, press the patch firmly in place with the palm of your hand for 30 seconds. Ensure the edges of the patch are well secured.

Parents or caregivers applying Daytrana to a child should avoid touching the sticky side of the patch that contains the medication. Be sure to wash your hands well after applying. 

Do not attempt to secure the patch with any tape, bandage, or covering. If the patch comes off or is not fully secured, you may remove the patch and apply a new one in a different area.

The total treatment time should not exceed nine hours, regardless of how many patches you use. 

Avoid exposing the the Daytrana application site to direct external heat sources, such as hair dryers, heating pads, electric blankets, heated waterbeds, or other heat sources while wearing a Daytrana patch. This can significantly increase how much Daytrana is absorbed into your body and cause an overdose.

Never cut Daytrana or use a patch that is damaged. 

When it is time to remove Daytrana, peel off the patch and fold it in half with the sticky sides together. The patch may be flushed down the toilet or thrown away in a trash can with a lid that children and pets cannot get into. 

When it is time for your next dose, apply Daytrana to the opposite hip.

Storage

Store Daytrana at room temperature in the container it came in and keep it out of reach of children and pets. Do not refrigerate or freeze the patches, nor store them in a bathroom. Do not remove the patches from their protective pouch until you are ready to use them.

Off-Label Uses

Daytrana is approved to treat ADHD in children and adolescents 6 to 17 years old. However, healthcare providers may use methylphenidate to treat adults with ADHD if they feel it is the right treatment for them.

How Long Does Daytrana Take to Work?

After applying Daytrana, you should begin to notice an improvement in ADHD symptoms within two hours.

What Are the Side Effects of Daytrana?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Some people experience side effects while using Daytrana. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop any side effects that bother you or don’t go away.

Common side effects include:

Severe Side Effects

Serious side effects and their symptoms include the following:

Heart problems, including:

Remove Daytrana and call your healthcare provider right away if you or your child develops signs of heart problems, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting. 

New or worsening mental health problems, including:

  • Aggressive behavior, hostility, anger, or irritability 
  • Bipolar disorder or mania
  • Psychosis (hearing or seeing things that are not there, believing things that are not true) 
  • Other extreme changes in behavior or mood 

Let your healthcare provider know right away if you notice any new or worsening mental health problems. 

Problems with blood flow in your fingers or toes (peripheral vasculopathy, including Raynaud’s phenomenon)

Call your healthcare provider right away if you or your child develops:

  • Fingers or toes that are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures 
  • Fingers or toes that feel numb, cool, or painful
  • Skin color changes in the fingers or toes (pale, blue, red) 
  • Unexplained wounds on the fingers or toes 

Additional severe side effects include:

  • Potential seizures, especially in people with a history of seizures 
  • Prolonged and painful erections (priapism): Priapism can cause permanent damage, so it is important to seek medical care right away. 
  • Delayed growth: Daytrana may slow growth in children. Children should have their height and weight regularly checked by their healthcare provider. 
  • Loss of skin color: Daytrana may cause your skin to lose its color. This can happen to skin under the patch, around the patch, and even skin not near the patch. The loss of skin color may be permanent, even after you stop using Daytrana. Let your healthcare provider know right away if you notice any changes in your skin color. 
  • Allergic skin reaction: Some people may develop a skin allergy to Daytrana. Stop using Daytrana and let your healthcare provider know right away if you have swelling or blisters near the application site. Some people with a skin allergy to Daytrana may not be able to take methylphenidate (the active ingredient in Daytrana) in any form, including oral pills. 
  • Changes in eyesight or blurred vision: Call your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your vision.

Long-Term Side Effects

Certain side effects may persist, even after you’ve stopped using Daytrana. These include:

  • Damage to the penis and erectile dysfunction from prolonged and painful erections (priapism)
  • Loss of skin color 

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you develop priapism or notice any changes in your skin color.

Report Side Effects

Daytrana may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program online or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Daytrana Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For transdermal dosage form (skin patch):
    • For attention deficit hyperactivity disorder:
      • Adults and children 6 years and older—One patch applied to the hip 2 hours before the desired effect.
      • Children younger than 6 years—Use is not recommended.

Modifications

Users should be aware of the following before beginning Daytrana:

Allergic reactions: If you are allergic to methylphenidate or any of the other ingredients present in Daytrana, do not use it. Instead, work with your healthcare provider to find alternative treatment options.

Pregnancy: Past studies on methylphenidate use during pregnancy are insufficient to identify a drug-associated risk of major birth defects, miscarriage, or negative fetal outcomes. However, there are known risks to the fetus associated with the use of CNS stimulants during pregnancy. Therefore, consult with your healthcare provider if you plan on using Daytrana while pregnant or subsequently become pregnant while using the medication.

Breastfeeding: There is limited information available on the impact that breastfeeding has on a child. Therefore, the developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the parent's clinical need for Daytrana and any potential negative effects on the breastfed child from Daytrana or from the underlying parental condition.

Children: Daytrana should not be used in children under 6 years of age, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established. The long-term effects of methylphenidate in children have also not been well established.

Adults over 65: Because Daytrana is typically prescribed for people ages 6 to 17, there is limited information available on its impact on people 65 and older. Therefore, consult with your healthcare provider for alternative treatments to manage your ADHD.

Hepatic impairment: There is no experience with the use of Daytrana in people with hepatic (liver) issues. Therefore, ask a healthcare provider to help determine if you are eligible for Daytrana use if you or your child experiences outstanding liver issues.

Missed Dose

If you forget to apply your patch, apply it as soon as you remember. You should still remove your patch at your regular removal time to avoid side effects later in the day, such as trouble sleeping. 

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Daytrana?

If you accidentally apply more than one Daytrana patch, you may be at risk of an overdose. Remove all patches and wash your skin, making sure to remove any adhesive stuck on your skin.

Call the Poison Control Center right away if you develop any of the following overdose symptoms:

Never use hair dryers, heating pads, electric blankets, heated waterbeds, or other heat sources while wearing Daytrana. Heat can increase how much medication your body absorbs from the patch and cause an overdose.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to use it. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

You will need to have your blood pressure measured before starting this medicine and while you are using it. If you notice any change to your recommended blood pressure, call your doctor right away.

You should not use this medicine if you used a medicine for depression called an MAO inhibitor (MAOI), such as Eldepryl®, Marplan®, Nardil®, or Parnate®, within the past 14 days.

Methylphenidate may cause serious heart or blood vessel problems. This may be more likely in patients who have a family history of heart disease. Check with your doctor right away if you have chest pain, trouble breathing, or fainting while using this medicine.

If you have any redness, itching, swelling, or blistering where the patch has been, call your doctor right away.

Tell your doctor right away if you notice any unusual changes in behavior, such as an increase in aggression, hostility, agitation, irritability, or suicidal thinking or behaviors. Check with your doctor if you have hallucinations or any unusual thoughts, especially if they are new or getting worse quickly.

This medicine may cause a condition called Raynaud phenomenon. Check with your doctor right away if you have tingling or pain in the fingers or toes when exposed to cold, paleness or a cold feeling in the fingertips and toes, or a skin color change of your fingers while using this medicine.

This medicine may cause slow growth. If your child is using this medicine, the doctor will need to keep track of your child's height and weight.

If you have a prolonged or painful erection of the penis for more than 4 hours, check with your doctor right away.

Using this medicine may cause loss of skin color where the patch is applied or on other areas of the skin. This usually occurs more often if you have a personal or family history of vitiligo. Call your doctor right away if you notice changes in skin color while using this medicine.

Methylphenidate may cause dizziness, drowsiness, or changes in vision. Do not drive a car, ride a bicycle, operate machinery, or do other things that might be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Avoid putting this medicine near external sources of direct heat, such as hair dyers, heating pads, electric blankets, heated water beds, or hot tubs.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements, and medicine for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hayfever, or sinus problems.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn't Take Daytrana?

Certain conditions may increase your risk of developing complications from Daytrana.

Do not use Daytrana if you:

  • Are very anxious, tense, or agitated 
  • Have glaucoma (when the nerve connecting the eye to the brain is damaged)
  • Have tics or Tourette’s syndrome (or if someone in your family has this condition) 
  • Are taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) medication or have taken an MAOI in the past two weeks. MAOIs are a classification of drugs typically used to combat depression.
  • Are allergic to methylphenidate or any other ingredient in Daytrana. Ask your healthcare provider for a list of all the ingredients if you are unsure.

What Medications May Interact With Daytrana?

Never use Daytrana with MAOI medications. Do not start Daytrana if you have used an MAOI in the past 14 days.

Notable MAOIs include: 

  • Marplan (isocarboxazid)
  • Nardil (phenelzine)
  • Azilect (rasagiline)
  • Emsam (selegiline)
  • Parnate (tranylcypromine)

Many other medications may interact with Daytrana. Let your healthcare provider know if you take any of the following:

This is not a complete list of all the medications that may interact with Daytrana.

Always keep an updated list of all the medicines you take—including over-the-counter (OTC), and nonprescription products—and let your healthcare provider know any time there are changes.

What Medications Are Similar?

Daytrana is a CNS stimulant medication used to treat ADHD.

Many other stimulant medicines are available that differ based on their duration of action (short-acting versus long-acting) and formulation (e.g., capsules, chewable tablets, oral liquids, extended-release products, orally disintegrating tablets).

Daytrana is a long-acting medication that you need to apply only once per day. Daytrana is also the only stimulant available as a patch—perfect for someone who has trouble swallowing pills. 

Products containing methylphenidate (like Daytrana) are better tolerated in children than products containing amphetamines (e.g., amphetamine, Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)), so healthcare providers may prefer starting with a methylphenidate product.

The following medications are stimulants used to treat ADHD. Each medication comes in several different forms. Your healthcare provider will choose a product based on your needs:

Choosing between stimulants may depend on your child's age and how long the treatment effects are needed. Another important consideration is if you or your child can swallow pills, since certain products cannot be opened or crushed. 

This is a list of drugs also used to treat ADHD. It is not a list of drugs recommended to take with Daytrana. In fact, you should not take these drugs together. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your medications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Daytrana used for?

    Daytrana is used to treat the symptoms of ADHD in people 6 to 17 years old. Daytrana should be used as one part of a treatment plan for ADHD, which may also include counseling and behavioral interventions.

  • How does Daytrana work?

    Daytrana is a CNS stimulant that works by increasing levels of certain brain chemicals. Daytrana is a transdermal patch that you apply to your hip two hours before the effects are needed.

  • What drugs should not be taken with Daytrana?

    Never take Daytrana with MAOI medications or if you have stopped an MAOI medication within the past 14 days. Ask your healthcare provider if you are unsure if any of your medications are MAOIs.

  • How long does it take for Daytrana to work?

    Daytrana begins to work within two hours.

  • What are the side effects of Daytrana?

    The most common side effects of Daytrana are skin problems where you apply the patch (redness, small bumps, itching), decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, weight loss, tics, trouble sleeping, mood swings, and dizziness.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Daytrana?

The symptoms of ADHD can be frustrating for both the person suffering from the effects and caregivers.

Fortunately, effective treatments are available. When medication treatment is needed, stimulants like Daytrana are usually the first type of treatment healthcare providers prescribe, as the drug works quickly.

While generally considered safe, be sure to review the warnings associated with Daytrana each time you pick up your prescription. Quickly identifying and managing any reactions that occur can help keep you healthy.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Christina Varvatsis, PharmD
Christina Varvatsis is a hospital pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She is passionate about helping individuals make informed healthcare choices by understanding the benefits and risks of their treatment options.