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

We asked a dermatologist if this viral TikTok beauty trick is legit.

If there's something that's guaranteed to get rid of a pimple, we all want to try it, right? And when it's super simple, super cheap, and super quick, that's even better.

The latest skincare hack to go viral ticks all those boxes. All you need is a particular type of bandage—called a hydrocolloid bandage—and a pimple that just won't quit. Like most beauty hacks these days, it recently caused a stir on TikTok with a series of videos from user @may_us, who showed how she used Advanced Healing Hydrocolloid Bandages purchased from her local CVS.

"Oh my God, it's all just filled," she says the morning after applying her first set of bandages, in a clip that has been viewed more than 11.5 million times.

The truth is, this hack isn't a new one. Back in 2016, skinfluencer Kali Kushner posted about using them on her Instagram. "It pulls out ALL the bacteria from your stubborn active spot like mine or brings your cystic acne to a head. Why do people not talk about or use these more????" Kushner wrote.

Do adhesive bandages actually get rid of acne?

Hydrocolloid bandages are effective for pimples, confirms 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 tells 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."

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 says, 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). "The [bandage] helps the topical penetrate the pimple area more efficiently," she explains. 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, as modelled on social media.

Whatever look you want, it's important to choose a product that won't make your breakouts worse, Dr. Jaliman warns. "Look for ones that won't irritate your skin, and are anti-bacterial," she says. 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 says.

Pimple patches aside, 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 says. "Try not to touch your face with your hands, because the bacteria on dirty hands can transfer to your face and cause a pimple."

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