Hydrocolloid Patches and Pimple Patches

Over the past few years, Pimple patches take the U.S. skincare market by storm. Now, people know what they do (treat spot breakouts), but they don’t know there are two types of acne patches. One is hydrocolloid and the other is for pimple treatment medications, like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Both may be the same – as round sticky dots – but they way of work is completely different.

So, how exactly do they work?

Hydrocolloid Pimple Patches

Hydrocolloid is not an ingredient slapped on a sticker to make pimple patch, but a material which actually becomes the adhesive itself. It is a gel-forming agents, such as pectin, gelatin or sodium carboxymethylcellulose, which adhere to your skin to provide insulation and a moist, healing environment.

Originally developed to treat wounds, the agents in hydrocolloid actively absorb fluids and pus without drying your skin. And hydrocolloid works just as well for acne as it does for wounds. Same ingredients make the Pimple patch stick literally suck the white gunk out of a pimple and into the patch. If you’ve used a Pimple Patch or another hydrocolloid patch before, you can see left on the patch after you remove it.

Some hydrocolloid patch brands also add ingredients like aloe, tea tree oil or salicylic acid, but hydrocolloid is the main ingredient for pimple patch.

Pimple Treatment Patches

Pimple patches are different because they are not made of hydrocolloid.

They are simply stickers that contain active ingredients, like salicylic acid, tea tree oil, benzoyl peroxide or any combination of the three.
The material of pimple patch is more rigid than hydrocolloid patches and feels almost like a band-aid.

Popular acne treatment patches include Peter Thomas Roth or Missha Speedy Trouble Recovery Patch.

So which is better? 

It really depends on the type of pimple you are treating.

Since hydrocolloid sucks up water and fluid, those patches work best on zits that have come to a head (meaning you can already see white pus under the skin).

For early stage pimples (red or inflamed but without obvious fluids under the skin), acne treatment patches may help minimize inflammation.

Once the pimple does mature, you’ll want to switch to a hydrocolloid patch to absorb the pus.