Hydrocolloid blister bandages work by drawing excess fluid from your skin and are made from the very same material as trendy pimple patches. “The hydrocolloid sheet works by absorbing excess fluid, and this pulls oil and dirt away from the pimple,” says Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. She explains that these impurities turn into a gel-like substance that sticks to the patch, which is why many TikTokers have had some major “WTF IS THAT?” reactions after pulling them off of their faces.
The main difference between blister bandages and pimple patches? The hydrocolloid material in acne treatments is often spiked with pimple-quashing ingredients such as tea tree oil and salicylic acid, which are both antibacterials, or calendula oil and cica, which act as anti-inflammatories. However, acne patches are also much smaller than actual bandages and tend to be clear, so they’re less noticeable when you’re wearing them out in the world.
Hydrocolloid patches, whether they’re meant for blisters or actual pimples, work best for treating “more superficial pimples, like whiteheads or pustules” says Dr. King. In these cases, patches can be more effective than other spot treatments because “they generally don’t dry out the skin and leave it flaky, like more classic acne spot treatments containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide,” she shares. “This means that they can be particularly helpful for people with sensitive skin and mild acne.” In addition to helping actually diminish the bacteria and inflammation that fuel breakouts, pimple patches also prevent you from picking or trying to pop the pimple, which can both up the inflammation and extend the healing time.
In this case, it may be worth taking this TikTok trend offline and trying it out for yourself—especially because a box of six Band-Aids will only cost you $7. And worse comes to worst? If they don’t work, you can always give them a second life on your actual blisters.
For more advice on how to deal with acne, check out the video below.
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