Skin-Care Tips

How Long Should You Actually Leave on That Acne-Busting Hydrocolloid Patch?

Photo: Getty Images/People Images
There's nothing worse than a giant pimple popping up out of nowhere. Before, the primary course of action was slathering on some cream and impatiently waiting as it dries out—but now with pimple patches (aka a true K-beauty godsend), your zits can vanish in record time. There's something you should know before leaving them on your skin for hours on end, though.

Pimple patches—also called hydrocolloid patches—work their magic due to hydrocolloid's ability to attract the zit's fluid to the surface of your skin like a magnet, resulting in a mound of pus. (Yes, gross, but all sorts of satisfying.) Because of the method of enclosing your zit with a medicated bandaid of sorts, you can heal up much quicker than what you would using a typical spot treatment: "The thin, clear hydrocolloid patch protects the zit from further irritation and infection by providing a 'sealed' environment for the skin to heal itself," says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. And the results are so good that one product even has a 3,000-person waitlist.

Because of how well they get the job done, people tend to get excited and take a more-is-more approach, wearing their patches as long as it takes for that pesky pimple to disappear—in fact, one Redditor left hers on for 24 hours.

But even if your pack of patches doesn't have a maximum time listed, there is a limit to ensure the product erases acne without hurting your skin in the process, and it's def not a full day.

According to Dr. Engelman, whether you wear it overnight or during the day, you should never go over 12 hours. "The adhesive on that patch could potentially irritate over time," she tells me. And another thing that could cause problems? Not cleaning your skin beforehand. "Applying it on dirty skin could allow bacteria to fester, making the issue worsen."

As long as you stick to these rules, you'll be rocking your pimple patch worry-free. Sorry, zits, but you don't even stand a chance.

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