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How Do Pimple Patches Work?

How Do Pimple Patches Work?

We don’t all deal with generalized acne, but we all deal with a pesky pimple every once in a while. Pimple patches have established themselves in recent years as an ideal product to combat those angry pimples that appear on our face from one day to the next–and which we’d like to see disappear just as quickly. Pimple patches seem too good to be true–do you just stick them on and watch pimples go away? How do pimple patches work, really, and how do you use them for best results?

What are pimple patches? What do pimple patches do?

Pimple patches are stickers you place onto a pimple to help speed up its life cycle and, hopefully, get rid of it faster. Pimple patches have a variety of benefits:

  • They cover up the pimple so you can’t pick or scratch at it;
  • They absorb excess fluid and oil, which helps drain the pimple;
  • They deliver active ingredients directly to the pimple, where they will help soothe and reduce the irritation.

How do pimple patches work?

There are two main types of pimple patches, which work differently: hydrocolloid patches, and “medicated” patches.

Hydrocolloid patches use the same technology as hydrocolloid dressings, which are used to treat wounds. When pressed up against wounds, these dressings work by absorbing fluids away from the skin and converting them into a gel-like substance on the surface of the dressing. The same technology can be used to speed up the life cycle of a pimple! As the hydrocolloid patch sticks to your skin, it absorbs moisture and excess oil away from the pimple. If your pimple has a visible “head”, for example, a hydrocolloid patch might be ideal to help you drain and flatten the pimple.

“Medicated” patches are a little different, as they’re infused with specific ingredients to help minimize pimples. These ingredients may be soothing, like tea tree leaf extract, or they may be exfoliating, like salicylic acid.

There is also a third, less common type of pimple patch, which is microneedling pimple patches. These patches are constructed with a series of teeny tiny needles that prick the skin in order to boost the penetration of active ingredients.

Do pimple patches work on blackheads? What about cystic acne?

Pimple patches work best on surface-level pimples with a visible “head”–like whiteheads, for example. They are unlikely to do much for blackheads, and they cannot penetrate the skin far enough to target cystic acne. If you have pimple patches with you and want to try it, however, there’s no harm in it: some people report subtle improvements when using salicylic acid patches on blackheads and microneedle patches on cystic acne.

How to use pimple patches

As we have already seen, there are different types of pimple patches, so it is important to see the specific instructions for each one before using. However, there are some basic recommendations that we will share with you.

Here’s how to use a pimple patch:

  1. Start with clean, dry skin;
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the sticker;
  3. Remove the sticker from the sheet and place it over the pimple. Press gently in order to ensure that the sticker adheres to the skin;
  4. Leave the sticker on for the appropriate amount of time, based on the brand’s specific instructions. Most stickers can be used overnight, so they should be safe to use for around 8 hours at a time.

What are the best pimple patches?

Because there’s so much variety of pimple patches out there, we’re going to show you our favorites, tried and tested by the Care to Beauty team:


Now that you know a little more about pimple patches, you know how to use them to get the best results in your skincare routine. If, however, you think that pimple patches may not be enough to deal with your breakouts, make sure to drop by the shop, where we’ve rounded up a series of effective anti-acne products for all kinds of needs.

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