Acne patches have become increasingly popular in recent years as a convenient way to treat the occasional spot. These small, hydrocolloid-packed stickers absorb excess oil and impurities to minimize blemishes and some even deliver active ingredients, too. But do dermatologists really recommend them? While there is some debate about the extent of their efficacy, many experts say acne patches can be a useful tool for clearing up breakouts. In fact, several top doctors recommend these patches as safe and effective solutions for mild to moderate acne. Here are the patches these pros love most.
“A minimum of six hours is advised when applying pimple patches. Remember that we advise using them at night, right before bed, and leaving them on all night. It also works well to use them throughout the day to prevent your hands from picking.
Peace Out Acne Healing Dots ($16) mix hydrocolloid and salicylic acid to aid in clearing clogged pores of dirt and oil. Aloe vera leaf extract’s anti-inflammatory qualities aid to reduce redness, while vitamin A helps to make texture and tone appear better.”
—Miami dermatologist Anna Chacon, MD
“There are two types of acne patches—one type has a hydrocolloid gel that helps absorb access oil from the pimple, the other type has acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide. In my opinion the best reason to use patches or stickers are to help people avoid picking which causes scarring, inflammation and discoloration. Hero Cosmetics’ Invisible Mighty Patch ($18) is a very thin clear hydrocolloid patch that turns from clear to white when all the fluid is drawn out from your pimple.”
—New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD
“There are all types of acne patches, and most are patch forms of hydrocolloid dressings that we use commonly in dermatology to dress wounds. Hydrocolloid dressings draw fluid from the pimple, shrinking them. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch ($6) are clear hydrocolloid patches that can even be worn with makeup, allowing day and night use to speed up resolution of the acne with constant treatment.”
—Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias
“I like the COSRX original acne pimple patches made of plain hydrocolloid. They are simple, nonirritating, and provide a good wound-healing environment for any pimple in any patient of any skin type.”
—Washington D.C. dermatologist Neelam Khan, MD
“The patches with microdarts embedded in the hydrocolloid contain the pimple-fighting ingredients salicyclic acid or benzoyl peroxide. I recommend these when the plain hydrocolloid patches aren’t working because the ingredients can be irritating. Zitsicka Killa ($54) is the original and still one of my go-to recommendations. The microdart patches contain 2% salicyclic acid to help clear the follicle of dead cells and debris plus niacinamide to reduce redness. They are the most expensive of the bunch.”
—Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD
“The acne patches are basically wound care for acne when it is in the big red state, aka inflammatory acne lesions. I’m on board for these. Look for ‘hydrocolloid patch’ without too many other ingredients as the skin may react to the other ingredients. They should be safe for all skin types as they are basically water bandages and can be used anytime and leave on at least several hours.” Hydrocolloid Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots ($5) can help flatten blemishes without irritating.
—Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby
“Patches, like the Clearasil Ultra Overnight Spot Patches ($13), are designed to help treat acne by absorbing excess fluids, such as sebum (oil), from the pimple and creating a protective barrier to prevent hand touching and UVB light from reaching the skin surface. The hydrocolloid gel promotes faster healing of the acne lesion.”
—New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD