Indications and Usage
Topical testosterone may be sold under the names Androgel or Testim. This medication is prescribed when the body does not naturally produce enough testosterone. Topical testosterone will come in a gel form that will be applied directly to clean, dry skin in the morning. Wash your hands after applying this gel. The area you apply this medication in will depend on the brand you are using, so talk with your doctor about specific instructions. You should not shower, bathe or swim within 2 hours of applying testosterone to your skin. This may be increased to 5-6 hours for Androgel. These medications may catch fire, so take care to avoid situations where you could be exposed to ashes or flame.
Buccal testosterone, sold under the name Striant, is used to treat low testosterone symptoms in men. This form of testosterone comes in a patch that will be applied to the upper gum approximately every 12 hours. It is important to apply this patch after you have eaten and brushed your teeth to avoid disturbing the patch, though you may continue to eat, drink and use mouth cleaning products after the patch has been adhered. Try to take your medications around the same time every day. If the patch falls off within 8 hours of applying it, simply stick it back in place. If it has been more than 8 hours then wait until the next dosing time to apply a new patch.
Transdermal testosterone, which is sold as Androderm, is applied to the skin in a patch. Doses should be applied between 8-12 at night, typically around the same time every night. You will need to select an area of the skin that does not tend to be oily and will not be strained or under pressure when sitting or sleeping, such as a hip or shoulder. Do not put the patch near open wounds or sores, or anywhere near the scrotum. You will need to choose a different spot each night and avoid repeating locations within a week of using the patch in this area. If a patch falls off before noon, apply a new patch. If it is after noon, wait until your regular application time to apply a new patch.
Recommended doses of testosterone will depend on the type of testosterone application you are using. Typically you will use one patch at a time, and will not apply your dose more than 12 hours at a time. You will need to talk with your doctor about the appropriate times and locations to apply the gel or patches so it is absorbed properly. You should never crush or chew a buccal testosterone patch.
Some patients may receive an injection every 2-4 weeks for excessive testosterone deficiencies. These may be used to assist the function of boys who are suffering from delayed puberty. You will need to have the bone development of these individuals checked every 6 months during this treatment to ensure proper growth.
Testosterone Side Effects
Common side effects to the testosterone patch or gel itself include blistering near the site where the patch is worn, trouble urinating, swelling of the ankles, prolonged erections, nausea, loss of appetite, or jaundice. You should report any of these side effects right away as they may be a sign of a serious reaction to the medication. Stop taking your testosterone doses if any of these side effects occur.
Those taking buccal testosterone may experience nausea or vomiting, swelling of the legs, breathing disturbances, liver damage, changes in skin color, darkened urine, unusual taste in the mouth, emotional changes, increased blood pressure or prolonged erections. You should notify your doctor as soon as these side effects become noticeable. If they are especially bothersome you may want to contact the FDA or poison control to determine whether or not you should get emergency medical care.
Children receiving testosterone injections should be watched for rapid weight gain, ongoing erections, bone pain, loss of appetite, increased urination, muscle twitching, nausea or swelling. This could be a sign that their body is reacting negatively to the drug or overreacting to their dose. Get emergency help for any symptoms that become life threatening and talk any others over with your doctor as soon as possible so their dose can be adjusted.
On occasion women are prescribed testosterone therapy to assist with menopause or other occasions where their hormones are not behaving normally. If your dosage is not set at the proper level you may notice increased facial hair, acne, voice deepening, enlarged clitoris, liver problems or mood swings. You may have similar sensations to those that you felt while going through puberty, including sensitive breasts or changes in your sexual appetite. Monitor these changes closely and report any abnormalities to your doctor right away to avoid permanent changes that could affect the function of your body.
If you begin to notice hives, swelling of the face, tongue or throat, or difficulty breathing you may be suffering from an allergic reaction to your medication. Remove the medication and seek medical attention immediately if these side effects begin to occur. If your difficulty breathing feels as though it may be life threatening then contact emergency services right away to get proper medical attention.
Patients using testosterone should talk to their doctor if they use insulin or other diabetes medications, blood thinners, steroid-based medications, warfarin, propranolol, or corticosteroids. These medications could increase the effects of your testosterone medication, which could lead to an unsafe reaction. Tell your doctor about any medications in your routine, including over-the-counter medications or natural supplements that you take regularly so your doctor can adjust your medication as necessary.
When applying a testosterone gel to your skin you should avoid using oils, lotions and other skin products in the area where the gel has been applied. You should not smoke until the gel has dried on your skin as this medication is flammable. Those receiving a testosterone injection may be placed on a limited diet that restricts their food or beverages to avoid excessive growth. Follow any instructions your doctor gives you in this area. You will need to inform your doctor if you have the buccal system in place so they can avoid disturbing it while performing any dental work you might need.