An ugly pimple crops up on your face and you have an interview the next day? You could put a little tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide on it, but the spot treatment of the moment are acne patches. Long gone are the days of trying to dry your pimples out with toothpaste and baking soda (both are irritating and could make scarring worse by increasing inflammation).
There are a few advantages to using acne patches:
- They protect your pimple from rubbing and touching (whether you’re doing it subconsciously or just rubbing your face on your pillow at night), which can lead to infection and scarring
- They can create a moist environment for faster and better healing
- They can deliver active ingredients to your pimple and the bandage can make them penetrate more effectively
- They can absorb fluid from your pimple
- They can protect your pimple from UV light, which can decrease pigmentation
- They’re usually waterproof, so you don’t need to reapply them every time you wash your face
There are two types of acne patches: hydrocolloid bandages and treatment patches.
Hydrocolloid bandages are flexible bandages made of a water-attracting material attached to a thin plastic film. The bandage is stuck to an open wound with the water-attracting film facing downwards. Hydrocolloids were originally designed to be used for ulcers, but they’ve become more popular for acne, particularly in Asia.
The tough, outer plastic film is usually polyurethane and keeps everything in place, as well as preventing the water from evaporating and drying out the wound, so the wound heals faster and the new skin that forms is supple rather than tight and stiff. It also protects the wound against rubbing and scratching.
The water-attracting material is usually made of carboxymethyl cellulose, gelatin and/or pectin, which have lots of water-binding groups in their chemical structure. This sucks fluid out of the wound. As fluid enters the bandage, it goes from transparent to white and swells up, which means you get a very satisfying white spot: