Understanding the White Stuff on Pimple Patches: A Comprehensive Analysis

How do acne patches work?

Zit patches have been around for a while. As such, we just assume that it works when that white mysterious substance appears on the patch, and hey why not? We don't have to know how computers work to use them, do we? Well, not for the vast majority of us. With that said, we don't need to know what those gross, white spots are. Since, we can rest assured that the patches are doing their job, which is primarily due to the hydrocolloid dressing.

Now the question remains, hey if the hydrocolloid is that important, why not use a hydrocolloid bandage? Removing the pimple patch from the equation. Simply put, it isn't as simple as it may seem. Especially when brands are toting the effectiveness of their acne patches. And some have only one ingredient, which is the hydrocolloid dressing!

But first, let's answer the question at hand, what is the white stuff on pimple patches?

What exactly is the white stuff on pimple patches?

The answer is not what you, nor I would have guessed. It isn't a combination of puss, oils (sebum), dirt, and dead skin cells, white blood cells, and bacteria that get trapped inside skin pockets a.k.a., the gunk. In actuality, the white stuff on pimple patches after pealing them off after 6–8 hours is hydrated hydrocolloid dressing Dr. Guanche explains in a Yahoo Finance interview. Furthermore, the more moisture that comes in contact with the zit patch, the whiter the area becomes.

With the mystery of the white substance soundly resolved, we will move on to better ways to apply safe skin practices.


The dos and don'ts of the path to quick recovery


1. Don't: Pick your pimples with your fingers

It isn't advised to pick at pimples. Since it may cause further infection, and spread the pimple. As well as, cause discoloration of the skin. Leaving dark spots that will take even longer time to heal with potential scarring. 

2. Do: Look at the ingredients when choosing the right pimple patch

It is important to look at the ingredients, especially when you don't want more pimples! Hydrocolloid pimple patches are great, but with a caveat. Due to the nature of having an environment closed off from oxygen, where some bacteria can thrive, which are called obligate anaerobes. One of said bacteria that can not just live but thrive with no oxygen is called propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria or "pathogen is responsible for acne vulgaris, or pimples." featured in Sci News. In combination with a moist environment, this can be a double edged sword if not properly identified at the start. This is why reading the ingredients are important.

But, this doesn't mean you should go with any ingredient that suits this requirement. While, ingredients such as, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are recommended by some demonologies, this all depends on the type of skin you have. Those with a combination of dry, and/or sensitive skin, should opt out of these ingredients, since they can further irritate your skin. Especially, those with dry skin types, these ingredients can further dry your skin, which is not conducive to acne prevention.

There are many alternatives that can be just as good as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These include but not limited to Tea tree oil, hyaluronic acid, calendula officinalis flower, cica oil, Madecassic Acid, Niacinamide

Avarelle has many of these ingredients in their products which have their own unique characteristics that aid in acne fighting activities, speeding up the healing time vs without pimple patches. Please note that the standard pimple patch has minimal to no noticeable effects to combat moderate to severe acne. In fact, it is recommended that these zit patches are used primarily on whitehead acne. These are acne that are "ready to pop". This just means that when sebum blocks the opening of hair follicles, clogging pores is on the surface layer of the skin. But, with all this said, always do a patch test to see if any pimple patches are right for you.

Examples of severe acne include cystic acne, as well as nodular acne. These types of acne that are underneath the skin, will not leave a "head" to extract the puss, and bacteria. This may be caused by trying to pop a pimple, and inadvertently pushing the acne gunk further into your skin from the surface to even deeper in the dermis. Causing the wall of the pore to burst and can create further damage.  This is just one example, but there are many other avenues.

For cystic acne, we would recommend using Avarelle's Multi-Dart: Spot Tech. These patches have micro cone shaped needles, or darts as the name implies. With these darts, it can penetrate deeper into the skin, and ultimately extracting the gunk out.

Hydrocolloid Bandages vs Pimple Patches

There are many benefits to both. One is beneficial to healing mild wounds, while the other is solely focused on pimples and reduce oil production. While there may be some overlap in their functionality, they do have distinct differences in terms of design, composition, and usage.

Hydrocolloid bandages are primarily intended for wound care purposes, commonly used to promote the healing of cuts, blisters, and burns. These bandages consist of a flexible material, usually made of polyurethane or gelatin, with a hydrocolloid adhesive layer on one side. The hydrocolloid dressing absorbs moisture from the wound, forming a gel-like substance that creates a moist environment, which is believed to accelerate the healing process and prevent scarring. Hydrocolloid bandages are generally larger in size and come in various shapes to accommodate different wound types.

On the other hand, pimple patches, often referred to as acne, zit, or pimple stickers, are specifically designed for addressing facial blemishes, particularly acne breakouts. Pimple patches are typically made of a thin, adhesive material, such as hydrocolloid or polyurethane, with a protective covering that is removed before application. The main purpose of these patches is to protect the pimple from external irritants, bacteria, and dirt, while also absorbing excess fluid, oil, and impurities from the affected area. Pimple patches are usually smaller and come in different sizes and shapes based on the size of the pimple.

The idea of having hydrocolloid this, and hydrocolloid that, it's difficult to tell the differences, when there is only one ingredient in the product, but, be assured that tackling pimples are no laughing matter. Neither are wounds. The key differences between hydrocolloid bandages and pimple patches lie in their purpose, size, and composition. Hydrocolloid bandages are more commonly used for wound care, including blisters and burns, and are typically larger in size. Pimple patches, on the other hand, are specifically formulated for addressing pimples and acne breakouts. They are smaller in size, and often have a specific shape suited for facial application. Both products utilize the benefits of hydrocolloid technology but cater to distinct skincare needs.


Sometimes, our perceptions, and ideas of things, don't quite reflect reality.  Case in point, the white substance on zit patches after pealing it off.  Which we now know is actually the hydrocolloid being in contact with moisture.  Well, a lot more than your skin can provide that is.  But most importantly, we also learned that not all pimple patches are made the same, and don't all have the same ingredients. There might be other options available, but there's a method to the madness we call pimple patches.  Like anything, preparation is key.  Remember to read the ingredients, and patch test.  The right ingredients mean that it is right for you.

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