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We asked experts to weigh in on what you really need to know about pimple patches.

By Kathleen Felton
August 21, 2018
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Between choosing the right acne-fighting cleanser and finding a spot treatment, tackling breakouts can be exhausting. But what if you could simply place a sticky patch on that pimple, go to sleep, and wake up with a drastically improved complexion? Acne patches promise to do just that.

"These patches are a type of hydrocolloid sheet that sticks to the skin," explains New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, adding that they work by absorbing excess fluid for a "vacuum-like effect" that pulls dirt and oil away from the blemish. "Then, [the patch] converts those impurities into a gel-like substance that sticks to the patch and is sealed away from the face." Sounds weirdly satisfying, right?

These patches can be "extremely effective," according to Ava Shamban, MD, a Beverly Hills dermatologist and founder of SKIN FIVE. "If you have a pimple, using these patches overnight is ideal."

Although not all acne patches contain active ingredients—the hydrocolloid material alone is often enough to zap oil from milder whiteheads—some are medicated with ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide that seep into skin and treat breakouts while you snooze. If you "want a little extra help with treating the breakout," Dr. Jaliman recommends a brand that has one of these ingredients.

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