People Are Putting Adhesive Bandages on Acne To Get Rid of Zits—But Does It Work? Here's What a Doctor Says

We asked a dermatologist if this beauty trick is legit.

If there's something that's guaranteed to get rid of a pimple, who wouldn't want to try it, right? And when it's super simple, super cheap, and super quick, that's even better. A skincare hack that went viral online checks all those boxes. All you need is a particular type of bandage—called a hydrocolloid bandage—and a pimple that just won't quit.

Do Adhesive Bandages Actually Get Rid of Acne?

Hydrocolloid bandages are effective for pimples, confirmed New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, who has taught dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine for over 25 years. "They treat a breakout by helping to reduce bacteria and infection," Dr. Jaliman told Health. "They absorb excess fluid and have a vacuum-like effect to get out any dirt and oil that could be causing a breakout. Then, they convert those impurities into a gel-like substance that sticks to the patch and is sealed away from the face."

These special bandages have actually been around for years and can be found at most drug stores or online. According to a 2019 review published in The Open Dermatology Journal, hydrocolloid dressings are commonly used in wound care to promote healing.

What About a Regular Adhesive Bandage—Will That Work, Too?

You could use a regular bandage as part of your pimple recovery kit, Dr. Jaliman said, but it will only speed up the healing process if it's applied over some sort of topical treatment, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide (her go-tos for fast pimple healing). Per the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), benzoyl peroxide works by killing bacteria, whereas salicylic acid reduces inflammation and unclogs pores.

"The [bandage] helps the topical penetrate the pimple area more efficiently," Dr. Jaliman explained. It also prevents the topical from rubbing off on your pillow during the night, and it stops you from touching the affected area of your face (which can worsen the pimple) while you're asleep.

What Are the Best Pimple Patches?

If you don't want to stick hydrocolloid bandages all over your face, you could opt for something more discrete. Pimple patches are made of the same material, but are a little thinner and sized to cover only the pimple. Or you could go all out and make a statement with your skincare—stars, flowers, and other cute designs are available.

Whatever look you want, it's important to choose a product that won't make your breakouts worse, Dr. Jaliman warned. "Look for ones that won't irritate your skin, and are anti-bacterial. And again, it's all about the salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Patches containing these ingredients will provide a little extra help with pulling out impurities and treating the pimple, Dr. Jaliman explained.

A Quick Review

Pimple patches are one possible way of treating acne. In addition to patches, don't forget about the basics of good skincare. "Keeping our face clean and making sure we cleanse and remove makeup properly is important in keeping pimples away," Dr. Jaliman said. "Try not to touch your face with your hands, because the bacteria on dirty hands can transfer to your face and cause a pimple."

To help control acne, the AAD also recommends that you use only oil-free skin care products and avoid irritating your skin—as this can lead to more breakouts. That said, if you need help getting acne under control or you have questions or concerns about caring for your skin, be sure to let your healthcare provider know.

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