What are acne patches? How does it work?

What are acne patches? How does it work?

How do acne patches work?

 Acne patches are small stickers made of hydrocolloid, a dressing which has a long history of being used in wound care for its superb ability to absorb fluids. Products such as “blister bandages” are also examples of hydrocolloid dressings. These small stickers can help your skin problems in two ways. First, they form a protective seal over pimples to keep the area clean. They also help prevent the wearer from picking or popping the pimples, which can be bad for your skin due to increased risk of infection and permanent scarring. Second, acne patches absorb excess wound fluids and thus provide a moist environment which is better for the healing process.


Why do acne patches turn white?

 Hydrocolloid dressings contain gel-forming agents. When you put an acne patch over your skin, it starts to absorb wound fluids and change into a jelly-like mass, gradually turning the patch white. Once the patch has turned white, it is time to take it off and put on a new one if necessary.


What is the white stuff on hydrocolloid patches?

 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. The more fluid it absorbs, the whiter it turns.


How to use acne patches?

 Before using acne patches, it is important that you clean your skin first, especially when the pimple you want to cover is leaking or oozing. If you have just washed your face, make sure that your skin is completely dry and apply the acne patches before using other skincare products because the patches will not stick well to wet or moisturized skin. If the area you want to treat has multiple blemishes, it may be better to opt for a large hydrocolloid patch.

Next, wait for a few hours for acne patches to do their work! While larger hydrocolloid acne patches are designed to be worn overnight, there are also small transparent acne patches that are inconspicuous enough to be worn during the day. If you get tired of the traditional style patches, some beauty brands also provide cute, decorative acne patches that come in star, heart or even flower shapes. The recommended amount of time to wear an acne patch may differ from product to product, so simply follow the instructions included with the patches you are using.

Once you have worn the acne patches for the recommended amount of time, remove the patches carefully with clean hands. The acnes should be smaller and less inflamed by then. Continue with normal skincare process (cleanse, tone and moisturize) afterwards or, if necessary, apply a new acne patch after cleaning your skin.

OMO Acne Patch

Can I shower with acne patches?

 If your acne patches are waterproof, then you can keep them on during shower or wash. Read the instructions before applying an acne patch to determine the best course of action.  


Can acne patches make acne worse?

With correct use, acne patches will not make acne worse for most people. However, they may be unhelpful for certain types of pimples. As one of the key functions of hydrocolloid dressings is to absorb extra fluid from wound, it naturally follows that hydrocolloid pimple patches are most effective on open and oozing lesions, such as a popped pimple. Cystic acne which forms deep under the skin without an open head requires stronger acne medications than acne patches.

If you have sensitive skin or an allergy to adhesives, you may want to avoid acne patches because they may aggravate the skin surrounding the pimple.


How long does it take for acne patches to work?

 Acne patches start to work as soon as you stick them on your blemishes by acting as a protective seal and absorbing wound fluids. You may need to wear them for at least a few hours to get a better result. As some patches are medicated with anti-acne ingredients, such as salicylic acid, while others are not, their recommended use of time may be different. Check the instructions of each product to confirm the recommended time before applying them so that you can plan in advance. 


Take home advice

 Overall, acne patches are a safe and convenient treatment to blemishes. These hydrocolloid patches absorb extra wound fluids and create a moist environment which facilitates the healing process. They also help you resist the tempatation to pop or pick the pimples so that your skin has more time to heal.  




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  2. Hydrocolloid. (n.d.). ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/chemistry/hydrocolloid
  3. K. (2021, October 26). Do Pimple Patches Actually Work? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-do-pimple-patches-work/
  4. Osmanski, S. (2021, August 23). How Do Pimple Patches Work? Dr. Pimple Popper and Dermatologists Explain. Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays. https://parade.com/1249711/stephanieosmanski/how-do-pimple-patches-work/
  5. The truth about how those trendy acne patches really work, according to dermatologists. (2020, March 11). Yahoo!Finance. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/truth-those-trendy-acne-patches-140759943.html
  6. What Are Hydrocolloid Acne Patches and How Do They Work? (2017, November 11). Hero Cosmetics. https://www.herocosmetics.us/blogs/news/what-are-hydrocolloid-acne-patches-and-how-do-they-work
  7. What Are Pimple Patches and How Do They Work? (n.d.). Nordstrom. https://www.nordstrom.com/blog/how-do-pimple-patches-work
  8. Wischhover, C. (2019, November 13). Pimple patches and zit stickers are everywhere. Do they work? Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/11/13/20955421/pimple-patches-zit-stickers

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