What Experts Want You to Know About Hydrocolloid Patches

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The world of beauty trends is always getting broader, but according to Spate, searches for hydrocolloid patches have seen a 110.6 percent growth since last year, making them one of the fastest-growing trends in skin care for 2022. Why the sudden rise in searches? We’re looking directly at TikTok, where videos of users removing their hydrocolloid patches are popping up all over our feeds. Here, skin-care professionals share their thoughts on the rising trend and whether or not these patches have their stamp of approval.

Hydrocolloid patches—they’re more commonly referred to as pimple patches—are moisture-absorbing dressings that heal wounds by targeting excess fluids like pus or oil. A lot of skin-care brands make the patches specifically for acne, but users are also turning to hydrocolloid-containing bandages, which serve a similar purpose.

“Hydrocolloid patches are a quick and simple options to treat non-inflamed to mildly-inflamed acne,” says Davie, FL dermatologist Lesley Clark-Loeser, MD. “They’re unique in that they provide an intended barrier between pimples and the wandering hands that are itching to go after them, all while hydrating an area that is likely in need of some major barrier repair. These patches are a great recommendation for pickers—you know who you are and you’re definitely not alone!”

“Hydrocolloid patches are formulated with gelling materials like gelatin, pectin or carboxymethyl cellulose,” says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “Acting as a skin shield to protect skin like a bandage would for a wound, they should be used on clean, dry skin to form a seal. These patches are used for moist healing, so they draw out pus without drying out the skin.”

While Dr. Clark-Loeser boasts these patches for their ability to heal, she advises on finding a patch that contains an active ingredient. “Unless you are using a patch with an active ingredient like salicylic acid, the patch is not a substitution for traditional acne therapies,” she warns. Our favorite patches that fit the bill: Starface Hydro-Star + Salicylic Acid ($13), which house hydrocolloid to flatten pimples and hard-hitting salicylic acid to unclog pesky pores, and ZitSticka ($29) self-dissolving patches, which include salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid.

TikTok-famous Troy, MI plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD also says he’s been seeing hydrocolloid patches all over his feed, and he’s a confident supporter. “These patches create occlusion of the pimple, so overnight they reduce inflammation,” he explains in a recent TikTok video. “They also often absorb moisture so they can decrease some of the excess fluid in the tissues.” Referring to the large patch shown in the video, he says, “She is wearing big patches made by Band-Aid ($4), but they actually make very small ones that are clear that you can put over single pimples…Overall, I give hydrocolloid patches a thumbs up from Dr. Youn.”

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