TikTok Found a DIY Alternative to Pimple Patches-AdobeStock_291866983

Hydrocolloid Bandaids Are TikTok's DIY Alternative to Pimple Patches

Find out how hydrocolloid bandages work when it comes to treating acne.
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It's not hard to guess why pimple patches — small adhesive patches that you can stick onto a pimple as a spot treatment — really took off as a skin-care trend in 2020. They can help calm down an angry pimple and often resemble a heart, flower, or star face sticker that you might actually want to show off. If you're willing to forgo the cutesy designs, you can get in on the trend with a DIY hack that's taken off on TikTok: making your own pimple patches out of a hydrocolloid bandaid.

Unlike some TikTok trends (looking at you, tooth filing), using hydrocolloid bandages for acne makes total sense. Hydrocolloid bandages are made up of two layers: An inner gel layer creates a moist environment that's conducive to wound healing and able to absorb fluid that leaks out of the wound. An outer layer protects the wound from harmful bacteria and debris.

You might already associate hydrocolloid dressings with pimple patches since they're both made from the same material. However, you can also spot hydrocolloid bandaids in the first aid aisle at the grocery store, which is where the TikTok hack comes in. Instead of buying a sheet of pimple patches, you can buy a hydrocolloid bandaid and cut your own patches to the size you need. TikTok's favorite seems to be the Band Aid Brand Hydro Seal Extra Large Adhesive Bandages (Buy It, $4, amazon.com) which, naturally, is currently a best-seller on Amazon. (Related: Do Pimple Patches Actually Help Get Rid of Zits?)

Band-Aid Brand Hydro Seal Hydrocolloid Gel Bandages
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Though you might not think of them as "wounds," your pimples might still improve when protected under a hydrocolloid bandage over the course of hours. "Hydrocolloid bandaids can help reduce inflamed acne and speed up healing time," says Marina Peredo, M.D., F.A.A.D., dermatologist and founder of Skinfluence. "The bandaids work by absorbing excess fluid and moisture, like oil and pus." As an added bonus, they might keep you from picking at your pimples, which can make them worse, she notes.

That said, pimple patches of the skin-care variety tend to contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or tea tree oil, which you won't find in your run-of-the-mill hydrocolloid bandaid. The bandaid alone can still help reduce redness and protect from bacteria, but you can also combine it with a treatment to incorporate the ingredients found in pimple patches, says Dr. Peredo. "Applying a spot treatment like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid under the bandaid at night may be a good idea to speed up the treatment," she explains. (Related: The Best Drugstore Acne Products, According to Dermatologists)

While a lot of TikTokers are demonstrating the hack by applying an entire hydrocolloid bandage over a collection of pimples, you're better off cutting them to size for individual pimples to allow the rest of your skin to breathe, says Dr. Peredo. In general, she adds, this will probably work best for mild acne and hormonal acne. As for "'under-the-skin' acne that hasn't formed into a whitehead yet, you won't see instant results," she explains. "But a hydrocolloid bandage might still help prevent further inflammation."

Overall, this hack gets a thumbs up from Dr. Peredo (and multiple #DoctorsOfTikTok). "I would recommend this DIY as an overnight spot treatment for pimples or zits," Dr. Peredo says. (Related: Doctors Are Flocking to TikTok to Spread the Word About Fertility, Sex Ed, and More)

At the same time, though, this probably shouldn't replace your more traditional acne-fighting strategies. "This shouldn't be used as your main way of treating acne," Dr. Peredo says. "You should still focus on incorporating retinoids, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide into your daily routine."