People on TikTok Are Using Hydrocolloid Band-Aids as Pimple Patches—But Is it Safe?

A board-certified dermatologist weighs in on the trend.

If this year has brought us anything, it’s been a ton of skincare TikTok trends. From people using Pepto-Bismol face masks for acne to a pore mousse that literally sucks dirt out of your skin, at this point we think we’ve seen it all. However, the latest SkinTok trend is an apparent game-changer for people with acne-prone skin: Hydrocolloid Band-Aids. This drugstore find has gone viral as they apparently have miraculous overnight acne-clearing powers—but are they healthy for your skin?

Hydrocolloid was originally used for wound-care, hence the Band-Aids. However, hydrocolloid is also the most effective ingredient in acne patches as it decompresses pimples by reducing inflammation, removing pus, and decreasing redness. While pimple patches are great for one-off blemishes, it can take many of them to cover a large area, which is why people are turning to Band-Aids.

In the TikTok videos, users place the large hydrocolloid Band-Aids over their acne and leave them on overnight. The next morning, they film the bandage and show all the oil, bacteria, and pus that the hydrocolloid sucked out. To better understand if hydrocolloid Band-Aids are safe and beneficial in the long-run, we spoke to board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai, Jeannette Graf, M.D

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Who benefits from big hydrocolloid Band-Aids vs. a pimple patch? 

Since the Band-Aids are larger than acne patches, someone with multiple pimples could possibly benefit from using them, says Dr. Graf. Additionally, she says that people with skin-picking habits could also benefit from covering the inflamed area, as that will protect the skin from further irritation.

Should people be using hydrocolloid Band-Aids to treat their acne?  

While hydrocolloid patches can treat acne, it is not what they were originally formulated to do. Instead, Dr. Graf recommends using acne-fighting products with active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid that are intended to treat acne. “The bandages are helpful for inflamed pimples that may contain pus, but won’t really help other conditions like clogged pores,” she explains. 

Are there side effects to using hydrocolloid Band-Aids to treat acne?

If you choose to use hydrocolloid Band-Aids to help treat your acne, you should only place them on areas where there is inflammation. Dr. Graf explains that by covering healthy skin with hydrocolloid, you could negatively affect it. To prevent that from happening, she recommends using traditional acne treatments on smaller areas and only using a hydrocolloid Band-Aid for severely inflamed areas.  

What are the negative side effects of using hydocrolloid Band-Aids on healthy skin?

Think about it this way: Hydrocolloid works on pimples as it sucks the oil and pus out of the pores. Now, if there isn’t a clogged pore to clean out, the hydrocolloid could suck out your skin’s natural oils which could lead to dryness, irritation, and redness.

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