Pimple Patch 101: How Does It Work and What Does It Do?

Everyone’s skin is different; some people have clear skin and others struggle with acne. Personally, I have acne-prone skin and have dealt with breakouts throughout my life. One way I deal with breakouts is by using pimple patches in my skincare routine. Pimple patches are inexpensive, gentle spot treatments that work for breakouts and blemishes caused by acne. Here is a guide on what pimple patches are, how to use them, and what to avoid.

What are pimple patches?

Pimple patches are made of a hydrocolloid material with acne-fighting benefits. Typically used to heal wounds by speeding up the healing process, the beauty industry has adapted these benefits to smaller-sized patches that speed up the acne healing process. Rather than picking at your acne and aggravating your skin, these patches are meant to extract drainage from the pimple and cover the wound to prevent scarring and infections. This leaves the blemish less red and inflamed. 

Purple Moonlit Skincare PM Pimple Patch product on white background

Moonlit Skincare’s PM Pimple Patch

How does it work?

The hydrocolloids in the pimple patch have water-absorbing properties that absorb the excess pus from the pimple. This helps prevent further infection from bacteria and create barriers that support the healing process. When the pimple heals faster, it is less likely to form post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. 

Pimple patches are more effective in dealing with breakouts because they don't dehydrate your skin compared to harsh acne spot treatments featuring salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. 

The three main functions of a pimple patch include:

  • Absorbing excess drainage from the pimple
  • Serve as a moisture barrier to speed the healing process 
  • Prevent infections and acne scars 
Hand holding pimple patch outside with the sky and trees in the background

Picture via Pinterest 

When should you use a pimple patch and how?

Pimple patches are meant for the end-stage of the pimple, meaning it should be used when you can see the yellow pus (pustules) at the end of the pimple. This indicates that the inflammatory process has subsided, leaving debris and pus. Pustules are what most people think of as a zit, which are red and inflamed with a white head in the center. The pimple patch is removing this white head while preventing scarring. 

I know it’s tempting, but the worst thing you can do to a pimple is to pop it. This can cause infection, inflammation, and increase the chance of scarring and hyper-pigmentation. A pimple patch will cover up the pimple, preventing any picking while absorbing the excess pus. 

Most pimple patches must be worn for a few hours in order to be effective, so it is best to wear them before bed. Some patches like Moonlit Skincare’s PM Pimple Patch Pack, are clear so they can be worn throughout the day without it being too noticeable. 

Before applying the pimple patch, make sure your skin is completely dry and clean. Any moisture such as water or serum can affect the ability for the patch to stick to the skin, reducing its effectiveness. Once the pimple patch is applied, leave it on for at least an hour or overnight for best results. Then, gently remove the patch, dispose, and repeat until fully healed.  

Girl holding pimple patch over her skin

Picture via Pinterest

Common mistakes to avoid

1. Using dirty hands to apply the pimple patch  

The dirt and oil from your hands can transfer to the edges of the patch, which increases bacteria exposure to the pimple and reduces the effectiveness of the patch. 

2. Using the pimple patches too early

The ideal time to use a pimple patch is when the pimple has mostly formed and the pus is visible. This way the patch can absorb the fluid inside the pimple. Using a pimple patch when the pimple is actively inflamed and red will not help with reducing the size of the pimple. It is best to wait until the pimple is at the end-stage and the inflammation subsides. 

3. Using the pimple patch as a long-term solution

Although the pimple patch can help with pimples, it should not be used as a long-term solution to acne. Pimple patches are spot treatments for active bumps, but do not have the ability to prevent acne from reappearing or new pimples from forming. Therefore, you should only use them to prevent picking at them, infection, scarring, and to speed up the healing process. 

Hand holding pimple patch and peeling a patch off

Picture via Pinterest