Do Pimple Patches Actually Work? The Truth About Hydrocolloid Patches

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Pimple Patches?
  2. How Do Hydrocolloid Patches Work?
  3. Do Hydrocolloid Patches Work?
  4. Can Pimple Patches Treat All Types of Acne or Blemish?
  5. How to Use Pimple Patches for Best Results
  6. Are Pimple Patches Suitable for Sensitive Skin?
  7. When to See a Dermatologist About Your Acne

You should have clear skin! And the truth is, a dedicated skincare routine isn't enough. No matter what you do, you don't have control over every aspect of your skin. Even though we all would like to think so. This is where pimple patches come in. They target your acne, enclosing it in a environment away from external irritants, and microbial elements. Although, pimple patches have been around for a hot minute, it has not received as much credit as its predecessor, the hydrocolloid bandage. We're here to fix that and explain what the heck hydrocolloid is and how it is an essential part of pimple patches.

What Are Pimple Patches?

Pimple patches, or acne stickers, are small hydrocolloid bandages designed to be placed directly over a pimple. Originally used in hospitals to keep moisture around wounds and promote healing, but these patches have made their way into the skincare world, promising targeted acne treatments.

The question remains, why did it become a must-have skincare product? The main reason behind this is due to the semi-occlusive nature of hydrocolloid. This means that the dressing allows the wound the "breath", where air can move in and out of the hydrocolloid dressing.

The reason why occlusive environments are best in wound healing is it prevents wound desiccation. This is because occlusive environment minimize the necrosis and eschar formation.. Where the body can create new skin faster. Put simply, it can prevent dead cells and scabs from forming.

However, there have been argues that occlusive dressing may "suppress barrier recovery and reduce the epidermal proliferative response to an abnormal stratum corneum barrier" states Hongbo Zhai, in Wound Care Learning Network. With this being said, there are other skin friendly ingredients that can supplement this issue. As hydrocolloid dressing are occlusive to semi-occlusive, it can provide the ideal environment for healing. In regard to ingredients besides hydrocolloid, which would include but not be limited to, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, niacinamide, cica, and rosehip oils are commonly used.

How Do Hydrocolloid Patches Work?

First, let's understand what hydrocolloid is made of, as well as how the final product is formed. There are two layers, one is a elastic polyurethane film, and the other side is a self adhesive layer. Where the main compounds are carboxymeth-ylcellulose, gelatin or pectin. Also note, that patches with hydrocolloid are called non-medicated patches. There are others called medicated patches, and finally microneedle patches. Medicated patches may include, benzoyl peroxide. While, microneedle patches may include Sodium Hyaluronate, which is a stable derivative of hyaluronic acid.

These zit patches come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what type of pimple or cluster of pimples it is targeting. These acne patches work by absorbing excess oil, pus, and other impurities from your pimple, creating a moist environment that promotes healing and reduces inflammation. The patch also acts as a physical barrier, protecting the pimple from external bacteria and preventing you from picking or touching it. Otherwise, it can lead to scarring or further breakouts.

Do Hydrocolloid Patches Work?

To understand how pimple patches extract puss, we need to understand the wound healing process. First is stopping the bleeding a.k.a. hemostasis. But, in this stage, the hydrocolloid dressing from the pimple patches will act as a scab to clot blood, which prevent scabs.

Next, white bloods cells, such as, macrophages and dendritic cells perform a process called phagocytosis-induced apoptosis. This is when white bloods cells sacrifice themselves by absorbing the pathogen and dying in the process. After this process, the body can to some extent decompose and break down pus without treatment, or drain naturally. Where the macrophage, also instructs the repair process. One way is by creating chemical messengers called growth factors.

As the pus is enclosed, these hydrocolloid filled pimple patch can help speed up the extraction process, with those white blood cells. After this stage, the body will send blood borne oxygen for healing. Afterwards, oxygen fill red blood cells help build new tissue. Now you have a broad idea of how pimple patches may help speed up the healing process. The occlusive environment that the hydrocolloid formulation creates, makes the perfect environment for puss to be released from. So, in fact, it doesn't necessarily help in a direct manner, but rather indirectly by creating and maintaining a state where the body can do its job more effectively.

Can Pimple Patches Treat All Types of Acne or Blemish?

While pimple patches may seem like a miracle cure, they work best on surface-level acne, such as whiteheads. Cystic acne, which occurs deeper in the skin, may not respond as well to these patches. Understanding the type of pimple patch and acne you're dealing with is crucial before relying solely on pimple patches for treatment. Let's see what types of acne these spot treatment pimple patches can deal with.

Pustules and Papules

I put these pimples in the same section since papules become pustules. Where papules are clogged pores that are red, inflamed, and in some cases sore from the touch. And pustules, are formed when the pore wall is extensively damaged, where you'll see a whitehead appear. This may be considered as the common pimple or zit.

Using hydrocolloid patches that include, salicylic acid, tea tree or niacinamide would be best for this type of pimples, since, it is calming, anti microbial, and anti inflammatory.

Cystic and Nodular Acne

For these types of acne, that live deep below the surface of your skin, can be treated with non-hydrocolloid patches however, these can also be teated with microneedles. We would recommend Avarelle's Multi-Dart Patches as they have many skin friendly ingredients that not only extracts the pus right out, but also improves hydration, antimicrobial, antioxidant rich, and anti inflammatory. As well as, has 350㎛ cone shaped needles. It might not seem very long, since it is around the size of a dust mite! 

Blackheads and Whiteheads

These are really non inflamed pores, rather than directly relating to pimples.

Blackheads (Open Comedones): Picture a tiny plug or clog in your skin's pore. This plug is made up of sebum (that's your skin's natural oil), dead skin cells, and sometimes bacteria. When this mix hits the air, it oxidizes and turns black, hence the name "blackhead." It's like when you slice an apple and leave it out; it turns brown, right? Same concept.

Whiteheads (Closed Comedones): These are similar to blackheads but have a tiny layer of skin over the plug, which keeps it from oxidizing. This means they stay white or flesh-colored. Think of it as the plug deciding to stay in and not face the world.

Why Do They Show Up?

Imagine your skin throwing a party every day. Sometimes, it produces too much oil, you might use products that don't agree with your skin, or dead skin cells don't leave the party when they should. This can lead to clogged pores. Hormonal changes, diet, and stress are like the party crashers that make things worse.

You can also learn more about what comedones are and how to treat them.

How to Use Pimple Patches for Best Results

For optimal results, apply the patch to a freshly cleansed and dried pimple. Leave it on for the recommended amount of time—usually overnight. Patience is key; while some pimples may vanish overnight, others might need a few days of consistent treatment.

Are Pimple Patches Suitable for Sensitive Skin?

Most pimple patches are gentle and can be used on sensitive skin. However, if you have a known allergy to adhesives or hydrocolloid material, it's best to proceed with caution or consult a dermatologist before use. But, all of Avarelle's Pimple Patches are dermatologically tested for sensitive skin. Check it out!

When to See a Dermatologist About Your Acne

If you're struggling with severe or persistent acne that doesn't respond to over-the-counter treatments, including pimple patches, it's time to consult a dermatologist. They can provide personalized advice and more potent treatments to manage your acne effectively. As mentioned in the above, hydrocolloid only helps extract the pus, through its enclosed environment. Think of a clogged shower drain. It will still drain the water, but if you removed the hair stuck in the drain, it will flow better.

While pimple patches offer a convenient and targeted treatment, they may not replace traditional acne treatments like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or prescription medications for more severe acne. Combining pimple patches with other treatments, under the guidance of a dermatologist, can be a more effective strategy.

Key Takeaways

The way we see pimple patches, as it does work, or it doesn't work, is not giving it the credit it really deserves.  It is true that it only works on certain pimples (pus filled), but it is also true that the it does not directly help the body get rid of it.  But, rather set the stage for it to work more effectively.  While, there are medical patches, with active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, see if it is the right solution for your skin and acne problems.  

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