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Generic Name:

clonidine, Transdermal patch

All Brands

  • Catapres-TTS
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for clonidine

Transdermal patch

The clonidine patch is used to treat high blood pressure.

2 3

If you experience mild skin redness or blisters in the area of the patch before completing 7 days, you can remove it and put a new patch in a different place.


If the patch comes loose or peels away, you can put on an adhesive cover over it.


Allergy warning

Don’t use this medication if you’ve had an allergic reaction to oral clonidine or the clonidine patch in the past.

MRI warning

The patch contains aluminum. Make sure to remove it before a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI), defibrillator, or electric cardioversion. A skin burn can happen at the patch site during a MRI.

Don't stop suddenly

Don’t stop taking this medication suddenly. This can cause nervousness or agitation, headaches, tremors, and a rapid increase in blood pressure. Rarely, it can be fatal. You should apply another patch, as directed, each time after removing your old patch. If your doctor wants you to stop taking the patch, they may slowly reduce your dose or may use the oral medication to slowly take you off the medication after you stop using the patch.

What is clonidine?

Clonidine is a prescription medication. It’s available in these forms: oral tablet, patch, and oral extended-release tablet. The form you use may depend on your condition.

It’s also available in a generic version. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you may need to take it with other drugs.

Why it's used

Clonidine patch is used to reduce blood pressure.

How it works

Clonidine stimulates parts of the brain stem to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

More Details

How It Works

Clonidine stimulates parts of the brain stem to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. It belongs to a class of drugs called centrally acting alpha-agonists.

SECTION 2 of 4

clonidine Side Effects

Transdermal patch

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with clonidine include:

  • dry mouth and dry eyes

  • dizziness

  • feeling drowsy and tired

  • stomach upset or pain

  • sedation

  • constipation

  • headache

  • redness or itching where the patch is applied

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • increased then decreased blood pressure

  • slower or faster heart rate

  • pounding heart

  • uneven heart rate

  • dizziness when you stand

  • fainting

  • slowed breathing or trouble breathing

  • chest pain

  • seeing things that aren’t there

  • blisters in the area of the patch or rash that spreads to your whole body

    • This can be a symptom of a severe allergic reaction, and you may need to remove the patch.
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Clonidine is sedating. However, this effect might go away the longer you take it.

Mild side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if they’re more severe or don’t go away.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

clonidine May Interact with Other Medications

Transdermal patch

Clonidine can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Alcohol Interaction

Combining alcohol with clonidine may cause a dangerous sedative effect. It may slow your reflexes, cause poor judgment, and cause sleepiness.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Drugs that increase tiredness/sedation

Don’t combine these drugs with clonidine. Taking these drugs with clonidine might increase sedation:

  • barbiturates
    • phenobarbital
    • pentobarbital
  • phenothiazines
    • chlorpromazine
    • thioridazine
    • prochlorperazine
  • benzodiazepines
    • lorazepam
    • diazepam
  • medicines for pain (opioids)
    • oxycodone
    • hydrocodone
    • morphine
  • other sedating drugs

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)

Examples are:

  • clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • desipramine (Norpramin)
  • doxepin (Sinequan)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • maprotiline (Ludiomil)
  • nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • protriptyline (Vivactil)
  • trimipramine (Surmontil)

If you’re taking clonidine for blood pressure, these drugs may cause clonidine not to lower blood pressure well. Your dose of clonidine may need to be increased.

Heart drugs

These include:

  • digoxin
  • beta blockers
  • calcium channel blockers:
    • diltiazem
    • verapamil

Combining these drugs with clonidine can slow your heart rate. This can become severe. You may need to go to the hospital or have a pacemaker.

Clonidine may not be the best medicine for you if you’re taking these medications.

Antipsychotic drugs

Examples are:

  • clozapine (Clozaril)
  • aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • quetiapine (Seroquel)

You may get dizzy or have trouble balancing when you change from lying down to sitting or from sitting to standing (orthostatic hypotension). 

Blood pressure drugs

Examples are:

  • angiotensin II receptor blockers:
    • losartan
    • valsartan
    • irbesartan
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
    • enalapril
    • lisinopril
  • diuretics
    • hydrochlorothiazide
    • furosemide

Combining these with clonidine may lower your blood pressure too much. Your risk of fainting may increase.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Clonidine Warnings
heart problems
People with heart problems

This includes low blood pressure, low heart rate, and heart disease. This medication decreases blood pressure and heart rate.  You may be at risk for more serious side effects if you already have low blood pressure or a low heart rate.

dizzy when standing
People who get dizzy when standing

This condition is called orthostatic hypotension. Clonidine can make this condition worse. Don’t stand up too quickly and make sure not to get dehydrated. These can increase your dizziness and risk of fainting.

People with syncope (fainting)

Clonidine can make this condition worse. Don’t stand up too quickly and make sure not to get dehydrated. These can increase your dizziness and risk of fainting.

eye problems
People with eye problems

This includes dry eye syndrome and problems focusing your eyes. Clonidine may make these problems worse.

pregnant woman
Pregnant women

Clonidine is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Clonidine should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are nursing

Clonidine may pass into your breast milk and can cause side effects in a breastfeeding child. Tell your doctor if you’re breastfeeding. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking clonidine.

For Seniors

This medication affects blood pressure, which may cause dizziness and increase your risk of falling.

drug transfer to others
Contact with drug

The patch contains active medicine even after you're done using it. This can be harmful to infants and children if they accidently touch or eat some medicine. Make sure children can’t touch the patch, even after you’re done using it.

When to call the doctor

Tell your doctor if you’ve had emergency medical treatment for your heart or if you’ve had an injury. Your doctor may need to change your dose and make sure you don’t have a withdrawal reaction.


The patch may cause blisters or redness and rash in the area of patch. This could spread to your whole body, which can be a symptom of a severe allergic reaction.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take clonidine (Dosage)

Transdermal patch

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

High blood pressure
Form: Patch
Strengths: 0.1 mg, 0.2 mg, 0.3 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • The dose is 1 patch every 7 days.
  • Patches give a dose of 0.1 mg, 0.2 mg or 0.3 mg per day over 1 week.
  • The starting dose is the .01 mg patch.
  • Your dose may be increased every 1–2 weeks by 0.1 mg until you get to your blood pressure goal.
  • Sometimes, 2 patches may be worn to get the right dose.
  • The patches take 2–3 days to start lowering your blood pressure. If you’re switching from the short-acting clonidine tablets to patches, you may still need to take the tablets until the patch starts working.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

A safe and effective dose hasn’t been established for this age group.

Special Considerations

Seniors: Your initial dose may be lower to help prevent side effects that can increase your risk of falling.

Kidney Disease: Your starting dose may be lower. Doses may be increased based on your blood pressure.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Clonidine comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.

If You Don't Take It At All or Not on Schedule

Your blood pressure may increase and put you at risk for serious heart problems.

If You Stop Suddenly

It’s important not to abruptly stop taking this drug. This can lead to a withdrawal reaction. Side effects may include:

  • headaches
  • tremors
  • rapid increase in blood pressure

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

If you forget to apply your patch, apply it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s just a few hours before the time for your next patch, skip the missed patch.

Never try to catch up by applying two patches at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

How to Tell If the Drug Is Working

You may be able to tell if this drug is working if your blood pressure goes down.

This is a long-term medication.

Apply a new clonidine patch after 7 days

Remove your old patch first before applying a new one.

Do not cut the patch. Never cut the wrapper to get the patch out

The patch is made to release the correct dose of the medicine every day. Cutting the patch could cause all of the medicine to be taken at once. The high dose can cause severe side effects that may require going to the hospital. Don’t use any patch that has been cut or torn by accident.

Store in temperatures below 86°F (30°C)

Don’t freeze the patches. Store them out of reach of children.

Note: Keep your medications away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store them away from moisture and damp locations.


When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this drug.
  • You may need to show your pharmacy’s preprinted label to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription-labeled box with you when traveling.


Each box of clonidine patches comes with 2 pouches.

  • One pouch contains the square patches with the medicine. This pouch has red and orange colors.
  • The other pouch is white. It contains round adhesive covers.
    • The covers can be applied over the patch if the patch with the medicine starts to come off.

Directions to apply the patch:

  • Clonidine patches should be applied to a hairless area on your upper, outer arm, or on your upper chest. Make sure there are no cuts, scrapes, irritated skin, scars, or hard skin (calluses) where you want to put the patch. This area shouldn’t be shaved before putting on the patch.
  • Don’t put the patch in areas where skin folds come together or under tight clothing. This can loosen the patch.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them completely.
  • Clean the area where you’re going to put the patch with soap and water and dry it completely.
  • Take a pouch that has red and orange colors and open it by tearing at the line. Don’t use scissors to open the pouch because you may cut the patch by accident.
  • Remove the patch from the pouch.
  • Remove the clear plastic protective backing from the patch by peeling one side off at a time. Don’t touch the sticky side of the patch because this may get medicine on your fingers.
  • Put the patch on the area of skin you cleaned sticky side down.
  • Press on the patch to make sure it sticks to your skin, especially around the edges.
  • Throw away the clear plastic protective backing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water to make sure you remove any medicine from your hands.
  • After 7 days, remove the old patch, fold it in half with the sticky sides together, and throw it out.
  • Next time, choose a different site on your skin.

If your patch gets loose while you are wearing it:

  • The white pouch contains round adhesive covers. Covers don’t have any medicine and shouldn’t be used alone. The cover is put on the patch to help make sure it stays on 7 days.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them completely.
  • Use a tissue to clean and dry the patch.
  • Press on the patch to make sure it sticks to the skin.
  • Take an adhesive cover from the plain white pouch.
  • Remove the paper liner backing from the cover.
  • Put the round cover over the square patch.
  • Press down, especially around the edges to make sure it sticks to the skin.

Clinical Monitoring

Your doctor may monitor your blood pressure and heart rate while you take this medication to make sure it’s working.

Electrocardiogram or other heart tests may be done to check how your heart is working and to make sure you aren’t having side effects.

Your kidney function may be checked to see if your starting dose needs to be lower. 


Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for the brand name clonidine products.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other medications available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on May 21, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.