Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pimple Patches

No, I'm not into arts and crafts...these stickers are there for a purpose!

Published On Feb 23, 2024 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


Take it from someone who's spent the better part of her 20s trying every possible acne treatment out there…there are only a few that actually work and zit stickers have been on of the biggest skin saviours for me. Also known as pimple patches or hydrocolloid patches, a pack of these adhesive stickers are always in my bag in case of emergencies. But what exactly are they? Simply put, the hydrogel patches are applied directly onto pimples and work by absorbing excess fluid, promoting faster healing, and protecting the affected area from external contaminants like dirt and pollutants. They're also an excellent deterrent for people who love picking their skin, keeping soiled hands away from broken and inflamed skin. 

The best part? They actually work like a charm! Maybe not “like magic”, as often mispresented by many zit sticker enthusiasts, but as a worthy replacement for cream or gel-based spot treatments that are difficult to apply during the day. And answering below are some of the most common questions thrown at me, a pimple patch fanatic, and their answers: 

1.How do pimple patches work? All pimple patches use the hydrocolloid polymer technology, the key ingredient behind extracting impurities and pus from an inflamed pimple. But other ingredients, like tea tree oil, salicylic acid, centella asiatica, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid together (not necessarily all of them) work by creating a protective barrier over the pimple to offer an sanitised environment for the zit to heal faster and cleaner.

2. When should you use a pimple patch? Best used on clean, dry skin, the stickers can be applied anytime depending on your intended use. At night, it can work on minimising the size of your breakouts while you snooze. During the day, they can act protectors against sun damage and other external aggressors. 

3. Can you wear pimple patches under makeup? One of the main reasons why I'm such a fan, pimple patches that have been specifically designed to thin, translucent, and intended for daytime use, can easily be worn under makeup. This allows you to keep the affected area untouched by the oils and pigments present in makeup products and avoid rubbing over it during makeup removal, which can be painful in the early inflammation days.  

4. How long can you leave them on? Hydrocolloid patches are highly customisable. Some are designed for short-term use, while others can be left on for an extended period. Do a thorough label and instructions check before buying one!

5. Do pimple patches work on cystic acne? It is essential to consult a dermatologist to help with persistent, deep and grade III cystic acne. While pimple patches can address inflammation and provide relief, they do not offer permanent cure from adolescent or adult acne. Zit stickers are ideal for surface-level acne, including whiteheads and pustules. For everything else, consult an expert for proper care. 

6. Can pimple patches cause irritation or allergies? Much like trying out any new skincare, pimple patches should also be patch tested under the arm 24 hours prior to use to make sure they are well-tolerated by your skin. If you notice dryness but no irritation, make sure to pause usage and let the area breathe before using it again. 

7. Do the stickers leave scars after healing the blemish? When used by following the instructions on the pack to the T, pimple patches can help prevent picking and minimise scarring. The adhesive in no way causes scarring of the skin.

8. Can pimple patches be used on popped pimples? You shouldn't apply anything on broken skin, much less a pimple patch! Plus, they'll be less than useful on zits that have been emptied of pus and impurities and could increase the risk of irritation.

9. How do I get the timing right?  Pimple patches are most effective on mature pimples with a visible whitehead or pus. Applying the patch too early will be a waste of product. On the flip side, waiting too long to apply a pimple patch can also be a fail, so pop one on as soon as a pimple comes to a head.

Make sure you're not replacing your regular skincare routine ore prescription topical creams with pimple patches. As mentioned before, they're not an end-all cure for acne, but a good companion to have whenever a nasty blemish does decide to rear its head, quite literally!

Photo: /InstagramGushbeauty