Are Pimple Patches Worth the Hype? The Expert Weighs In

Huff Post recently wrote an article asking if pimple patches are effective. The products are popular with beauty bloggers who swear the patches have breakout-stopping properties.

For an expert opinion, I consulted double board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD, who is based in Dallas, Texas.

Do pimple patches work? If so, how?

Pimple patches can work on isolated acne lesions. The patches work by protecting the area and providing a comedolytic medicine, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Some provide simply a hydrocolloid and an adhesive, which create a hydrating and reparative environment. The patches also keep the patient from picking or touching the area, which promotes healing of the skin and the pimple.

Are some pimple patches more effective than others?

Yes, patches that provide medicine will be more effective than those with hydrocolloid alone. Patches with a small penetrating component may also be more efficacious.

How do pimple patches compare with other acne treatments?

Acne is a challenge. The patches can be used in conjunction with a topical therapy or in combination therapy with both oral and topical treatments.

Do pimple patches work for hormonal acne?

Pimple patches are best utilized as monotherapy for very limited acne. They can be used in combination with both oral and topical treatments for patients with severe acne, including those who break out with two or more cysts per month. It is important for these patients to receive appropriate treatment to avoid scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

How should dermatologists counsel their patients when considering using pimple patches?

It is best for patients to understand that a pimple patch can be used for minor and isolated breakouts. Pimple patches should not be thought of as a monotherapy for more significant or severe acne. Patients should know that large cysts are best treated by a dermatologist with a steroid injection, which will bring down the swelling and discomfort.

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