Hands up who has the self-control to avoid touching or squeezing a pimple?
That’s right, we thought so.
Regardless of the age and stage of your life, pimples can pop up from nowhere and ignoring them is hard.
While there are plenty of skincare products designed to keep skin in good condition and treat acne overall, many people inevitably experience the occasional spot thanks to hormones, stress and other skin challenges.
In the past, treatment has generally centered around drying the pimple out with a cream or paste, but these can leave skin flaky or cause scabs to form.
Now, a newer approach using thin ‘invisible’ stick on-patches has been developed to help bring pimples to a head and clear them quickly without infection as well as help minimise related inflammation.
How do pimple patches work?
Pimple patches are small, round, clear adhesive stickers that can easily be applied to the skin. They are made from a flexible gel-like material known as a hydrocolloid bandage or dressing.
Hydrocolloid dressings were originally developed as a form of wound care and have been used as such for many years given they keep the skin clean and moist, absorb excess fluid and help speed the healing process.
Because they are somewhat absorbent, when applied to pimples, the flexible hydrocolloid material helps to draw out excess sebum, oil and pus that forms the white head of the pimple. It holds it within the surface of the dressing, away from your skin.
Though seeing that gunk being absorbed over a number of hours can be satisfying and can help flatten out your spot, pimple patches also carry out other key functions.
They form a hygienic seal that prevents you from touching the pimple and potentially transferring bacteria from your hands as well as minimising the temptation to pick or squeeze.
They can also help calm redness and irritation and help prevent scarring.
Though simple hydrocolloid pimple patches are the most common (and affordable) and work well on spots that have come to a head, other variations contain treatment ingredients like salicylic acid or tea tree to help treat deeper or blind pimples.
Even more advanced options contain dissolving ‘microneedles’ or ‘micro darts’, that are made of serum formed into tiny tips, intended to press into the spot and deliver targeted healing ingredients.
View this post on Instagram
How do I use a pimple patch?
The best way to use them is to wait until your pimple forms a head and then apply a patch directly to the spot so it is fully covered.
Ensure skin is clean and dry before applying or it won’t adhere well.
Leave on for a number of hours until you can see it has absorbed the pimple’s contents and goes from clear to white, usually at least 6-8 hours, or overnight while you sleep.
Peel off and discard, before cleansing and moisturising skin as usual.
Unless they hold ingredients designed to absorb into skin to treat oil they are less effective on cystic acne and deep, closed pimples.
The patches aren’t a long term solution, and won’t prevent pimples from forming but provide a quick-fix alternative to squeezing when an unwelcome spot arrives.
Five of the best pimple patches
COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch
One of the original, and arguably most popular pimple patches out there, these patches from Korean beauty brand COSRX come in three different sizes so you can tailor to the extent of your spot.
ZitSticka KILLA Clarifying Microdart Patch Kit
Pioneers of the micro dart approach, these targeted patches deliver salicylic acid, niacinimide, hyaluronic acid and a peptide to the core of the pimple, but you’ll pay more for the advanced approach.
3M Nexcare Acne Patch Transparent & Thin
Easy to find at your local pharmacy, this version has a handy application tab to help get them in exactly the right position and feel light and comfortable while on.
Skincare-focused hydrocolloid dots that come loaded with salicylic acid, retinol and soothing aloe vera to treat, shrink and smooth pimples quickly.
A combo pack that contains plain hydrocolloid dots to treat pimples that have come to a head, blemish-shrinking salicylic acid dots for deeper pimples and detoxifying charcoal nose strips to tackle clogged pores and blackheads.