For years, medical professionals (and consumers) have used hydrocolloid dressings to treat all kinds of uninfected, superficial wounds — think cuts, scrapes, light burns, and blisters. The same principle that applies to healing these wounds with hydrocolloid dressings can apply to treating pimples, too: For the most part, pimple patches are actually hydrocolloid bandages masquerading as spot treatments. Ahead, I'll get into the best pimple patches you can buy to heal your spots faster, but first, a few key insights from Dr. Morgan Rabach, a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of LM Medical NYC.
Basically, pimple patches “contain ingredients that use osmosis to absorb fluid from the pimple,” Dr. Rabach tells Elite Daily. That also relieves the swelling, redness, and inflammation around the spot. At the same time, the adhesive creates an enclosed environment that protects the pimple from external bacteria. The sticker also protects the pimple from your fingers, which will almost always do more harm than good — a concept that we all know intellectually, but which, for some reason, almost never stops us from picking at spots.
Pimple patches work best at drawing out bacteria from whiteheads, and flattening and reducing “red and inflamed” pimples, Dr. Rabach says. So most won’t work on blackheads, and they probably won’t work on cystic acne or underground pimples, either. Dr. Rabach also pointed out that acne patches are hard to use if you’re prone to widespread breakouts rather than one-off spots. In that case, Dr. Rabach recommends a topical acne treatment to more effectively remedy existing breakouts, plus something like a retinoid to prevent future breakouts.
It’s also worth noting that not all of the best pimple patches are hydrocolloid bandages. Rather than containing hydrocolloid ingredients — like gelatin, pectin, and carboxymethyl cellulose — some of the patches on this list are powered by traditional acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid. Either way, these six great pimple patches are gentle, unfussy, and oddly satisfying ways to heal and calm unwanted spots. Scroll on to shop them now.
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