More to know: Standard hydrocolloid patches are going to work best for formed zits, especially whiteheads, as they will pull out and absorb the pus, oil and more.
“Pimple patches work by absorbing any drainage from the pimple and covering the wound to prevent further trauma to the site, such as picking,” Dr. Kassouf explains. “They work best on open, draining, healing pustules, papules and cysts.”
Hydrocolloid is made of gel forming agents like pectin or gelatin (most commonly used) that create a moist environment with the body to promote healing. It draws out the fluids and pus and then forms a soft gel. If you've used Mighty Patch before, you'll notice this as the white stuff that gets sucked out!
An acne patch absorbs excess fluids surrounding a pimple, such as pus or oil. This protects your skin from absorbing the bacteria from the pus, oil, or dirt from your fingers. This makes a more sterile environment for your pimple, which can prevent scarring and speed up the healing process.
"Sure, you can use any pimple patch on a popped pimple to help it heal faster," Dr. Lee explains. "Keeping your hands off the area and also keeping the area moist will help speed healing."
DON'T: Leave pimple exposed after removing your pimple patch
After a patch is removed, apply a second one to make sure all the gunk is taken out! This also gives the open pore time to heal.
“The white stuff is just hydrated hydrocolloid. Moisture turns it white, kind of like chronic moisture turns the skin on your fingers white. The more moisture it absorbs, the whiter it turns,” Dr. Guanche explains, much to my disappointment.
There's no real harm in using hydrocolloid bandages on pimples. These are waterproof bandages and can be washed over without being removed, so they can be left in place for up to 3-5 days, allowing for healing of acne lesions under the bandages.
You can keep on reapplying your pimple patch until the wound is completely covered and a scab is formed. The scab will eventually fall off, and your skin will completely heal soon.
If you're looking for an effective but slightly less expensive combination of things to heal the mess you've created on your face, get the pimple patches for getting rid of the scab and the vitamin C serum to treat the dark spots afterward.
Patches for active acne
The patches enhance the absorption of the active ingredients into the skin. They help to reduce bumps, pain, and redness and can be effective when treating inflamed acne, like papules. They may also help to reduce the size of lesions caused by nodular or cystic acne.
While pimple patches are effective on open whiteheads and existing breakouts, they are not very useful on closed lesions or deeper pimples such as blackheads. They work best as spot treatments on active pimples but cannot help prevent breakouts. They are also unable to prevent scarring, sadly.
Contrary to popular believe that the white stuff is pus pulled out from their blemish by the acne patch, it is actually hydrated hydrocolloid. As mentioned above, hydrocolloid absorbs excess fluids surrounding a pimple to form a soft gel, creating an ideal healing environment.
Hydrocolloid dressings are not suitable for all types of wounds. In particular, these dressings should not be used on wounds that are infected or require drainage. Hydrocolloid dressings are not ideal for wounds that require regular assessing as it can be difficult to see the wound without removing the dressing.
Traumatic wounds. In addition to their role in the treatment of major acute wounds, hydrocolloid dressings have also been used with success in the management of superficial sports injuries and other traumatic wounds.
Kassouf explains that pimple patches don't work on closed wounds, deeper lesions, and comedones (blackheads and whiteheads). Hydrocolloid patches are an inexpensive spot treatment method for active wounds and bumps. But they may not be effective if you have not picked or popped your pimple.
Applying a warm compress can help to treat a blind pimple. The heat can open up pores, which may draw the pimple closer to the skin's surface and create a head. The formation of a head enables the sebum, cells, and bacteria to exit the skin. The heat from the compress can also help to relieve pain.
"Hydrocolloid dressings are a great option for inflamed acne lesions," says Campbell. In other words, if your pimple is red or inflamed on the surface, that is the best type of acne to treat with a bandage. She also says you can use the bandages on raised acne lesions or whiteheads and cystic acne.
Jaliman says the patches won't always work overnight, but they do in fact work if worn correctly. “They should be worn for at least six hours,” she says. “When you remove it, you should be able to see that the presence of the pimple is not as visible.
According to Dr. Engelman, whether you wear it overnight or during the day, you should never go over 12 hours. "The adhesive on that patch could potentially irritate over time," she tells me.
A Final Word on Using Pimple Patches to Clear Up Your Skin
Acne stickers can be an effective way to deliver medication that treats breakouts, prevent picking, and speeds healing time. They work best for individual pimples and are best worn overnight.
Grab a Q-tip in each hand and position the pillow-y parts on either side of your whitehead. Using gentle but consistent pressure, press down into your skin—not sideways into the zit. Once you get the white or black stuff out, you're done. You never want to press to the point of seeing pus or blood.
Post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) is the residual red, pink, or purple spots left behind by acne breakouts. PIE goes away on its own, but it can be resolved more speedily when dermatological treatments are used. At-home treatments may also help reduce or eliminate PIE.
Nodules are hard lumps that form deep inside the skin. Cysts are large, soft, and filled with pus.