Can You Really Use A Hydrocolloid Bandage To Treat Acne?

Yet another beauty trend has gone viral on TikTok, the latest of which promises to clear up acne with hydrocolloid bandages. The new skin care hack involves putting the bandages over large pimples and leaving them on overnight to quickly treat acne and get rid of any unwanted blemishes (via Glamour). The viral video, which was originally posted by TikTok user @May_us, has gained almost 2 million views, causing many other creators on TikTok to post videos of themselves trying out the hack by covering their faces in large swaths of hydrocolloid bandages in the hopes of clearing up their skin.

Generally speaking, hydrocolloid bandages are intended to help conceal and heal wounds and blisters. In fact, the hydrophilic material of the bandages is designed to attract water, pus, and other bodily fluids coming from weeping wounds. Given these beneficial properties, could hydrocolloid bandages have a similar healing effect on pimples?

How hydrocolloid patches work on acne

According to New York City-based dermatologist, Dr. Shereene Idriss, this type of acne treatment isn't exactly new. As a matter of fact, she told Glamour that hydrocolloid acne patches already exist and they actually work. The only difference is these patches are made specifically for acne.

Since hydrocolloid patches are made of a type of moisture-absorbing dressing, they can essentially help absorb toxins and dry out pimples while protecting your acne from outside bacteria (via Healthline.) Idriss said that the hydrophilic material can also "decrease the intensity of a pimple by extracting the inflammatory exudate without physical manipulation." This means that hydrocolloid patches can help drain any pus and fluid-filled pimples without the risk of scarring your skin. 

In addition, the adhesive on a hydrocolloid patch is more gentle than the one on a regular bandage, making it much less likely to hurt or cause irritation when you take it off. That's why dermatologists recommend using hydrocolloid patches instead of bandages (via Today).

If you do use a hydrocolloid bandage, however, you should remove it slowly and gently. Dr. Michele Farber, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in Philadelphia, told Today that she "wouldn't recommend ripping a Band-Aid off your face. The sticky part is what concerns me."

Finally, these patches only really work on superficial pimples, like whiteheads, blackheads, and pus-filled bumps. This means that they cannot treat cystic acne.