Unlike normal bandages, hydrocolloid bandages for acne have a special set of ingredients that forms a gel absorbing fluids coming out from pimples/acne. It sets to create an effective environment for skin healing against acne. It has a coating of a film or foam that works as an adhesive on the side where you need to stick it onto the skin. Leaving it there for some time or overnight, it works as a magical shield for healing your acne. 

Coming in the form of dressing, bandages and patches, hydrocolloid bandages have been in the rounds and have often been known as pimple patches. But are they the same? In this article, we will learn more about it, its application and its difference. 

What are hydrocolloid bandages for acne? 

Whether it is the beauty influencers you follow or the dermatologist you see, the most common advice they give is not to “prick a pimple”. Sometimes it is uncontrollable for some. And if you are one of them doing it, you already know the consequences. It opens with pus, oil and even blood, leaving a scar/mark on your face. 

Hydrocolloid bandages work as an acne-reliever. The hydrocolloid bandage has moisture-retentive ingredients working as a dressing for healing acne/pimples. It holds the water creating an insulating environment for the area to heal sooner. The application of the bandage on the affected area helps your body’s natural enzymes to help in the process of healing naturally and more effectively. 

The hydrocolloid bandages incorporate sodium carboxymethyl cellulose and gelatin gel. These foaming ingredients are infused with pectic and hydrophobic pressure-sensitive polymers that aid in healing acne/pimples. 

Are hydrocolloid bandages safe for acne?

Hydrocolloid bandages gained popularity with famous TikTok trends. If you go traditionally, these bandages treat nominal wounds and cuts. So, it is an age-old treatment. Yes, it helps in absorbing the pus from the acne, creating a protective barrier around the affected area. It works if you have a nominal acne issue. 

If you are having inflamed acne lesions, it is going to work wonders on your skin. Mainly, the bandage acts as a protective shield more prone to healing. It further restricts you from pricking acne especially if it is filled with pus. The bandage works as an interdependent medication with your body’s natural enzyme to expedite the acne-healing process. 

Do hydrocolloid bandages work for acne? 

According to clinical studies and referring famous dermatologists, hydrocolloid bandages do work for acne. But it should not be replaced with acne medications. It does help in shrinking inflamed acne, pus-filled pimples as well as cystic acne. But it does not work on reducing pimples/acne. It cannot be considered the first option for acne treatment. 

If you are one of those who get the occasional pimple, it might be a good source for you but not for the rest. Furthermore, it might also not work on all types of acne. For example, you will see no difference if applied on blackheads or whiteheads. When you are using a hydrocolloid bandage, you may apply it to the unaffected area too. It might end up ruining that area of the skin too. Thus, it is better to consult a professional before applying. 

How long do you have to wear hydrocolloid bandages for acne? 

The bandage dressing has got two effective layers. First is the inner layer that has the hydrocolloid adhesive or sticker that absorbs the affected area inflammation/pus to transform into a hydrated gel. It makes way to retain the moisture inside for better healing and protection of new tissues. 

The second layer is the outer layer. It is sealed like a thin film for protection against the affected area from dust or other pollution or even bacterial contamination. It further helps your acne to spread to other areas of the skin. 

The hydrocolloid bandages are formulated in such a way that you can wear them straight for a week. This is only applicable to cuts and wounds. If you are wearing it to the affected pimple/acne area, you may leave it for an hour or overnight and that shall do the work for you. You may even keep it straight between 3-5 days until it needs peeling, provided that you are not leaving your house. When you are wearing it for inflamed acne or acne with cysts, make sure that you are not overusing it for more than 12 hours straight. 

Hydrocolloid bandages for acne vs pimple patches

Hydrocolloid bandages are a type of pimple patch. The basic difference between the two that is visible to the naked eye is the size. A pimple patch is small and round in shape, meaning it will only restrict itself to the affected area. On the other hand, hydrocolloid bandages are bigger in shape and size. You can cut it and apply it to the area, it might even cover the unaffected areas. 

Hydrocolloid Bandages –

Not an ingredient, hydrocolloid is a thin film acting as an adhesive on the skin that has moisture-retaining properties. 

Curated with gel-forming ingredients, hydrocolloid bandages consist of pectin, gelatin, sodium carboxymethylcellulose and other gel-forming ingredients that provide the perfect atmosphere for skin healing. 

It was mainly developed for healing minor cuts and wounds. The properties in hydrocolloid bandages help in absorbing fluids and pus without drying your skin. 

Different brands add ingredients for better skin healing, and hydration and retain natural radiance including aloe vera, tea tree oil or even salicylic acid. 

You may apply it to the cuts for 3-5 days but for pimples not more than 12 hours. 

Pimple Patches – 

Definitely not made of hydrocolloid, pimple patches are simple stickers with adhesive on the side of the skin attached with the presence of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or even tea tree oil. 

It is more rigid in property and wears almost feeling like a band-aid on the skin. 

It sucks out pus and fluid from acne. They are more in an enclosed area. Keeping the medication restricted to the affected area, further preventing you from touching and picking. 

It is better to apply overnight to see the visible difference. 

How to use hydrocolloid bandages for acne? 

Before you start the application of hydrocolloid bandages on your skin, it is better to do a patch test. Hydrocolloid bandages are an effective option if you have wounds or cuts. If you do have acne issues or lesions, it is better to go for hydrocolloid patches as they work absolutely near the affected area of the skin and do not spread. 

Here is how you can use the hydrocolloid bandages – 

  • Make sure that you cleanse your face with a gentle or mild cleanser. 
  • Pat dry your skin. 
  • Make sure that your skin is completely dried. 
  • You wipe your face with a dry cloth. Be gentle. 
  • Take the bandage and cut it close to the size of the pimple or acne. Making such a small cut is a little tiresome, you may section it to 1 inch. 
  • Put the sticky side down to the skin and press for a few seconds to secure its position. 
  • Leave it on until the patch turns white. 
  • It is better to leave it overnight.


When you remove the bandage, you will see the visible difference in the morning. The pus is out, less inflamed and less swollen. Let your skin breathe natural air. Cleanse it with a mild cleanser, pat dry and repeat the process. It is always better that you consult your doctor before using it. You need to know it does not work for blackheads or likewise. 

FAQs – 

Why do hydrocolloid bandages turn white? 

The bandages have gel-forming agents. So when you are applying it to the affected areas of the skin, it absorbs the harmful fluid including the pus and bacteria causing inflammation. Thus, it transforms into a jelly-like substance making the bandage white. 

When should you not use a hydrocolloid bandage? 

The bandages are designed for wounds and cuts. Application of it to the pimple-prone area will not only just cover the affected area but also the barren areas of the skin. There is a higher chance of the pus spreading and the unaffected area turning white as they are not getting the natural air. 

Can you put hydrocolloid bandages for cystic acne? 

Yes, you may! Cystic acne is filled with pus. Make sure that you are applying the bandage for not more than 12 hours. The affected area will get medicinal advantages but also needs to breathe. 

Does hydrocolloid help hormonal acne?

If you are having breakouts or acne due to hormonal changes, hydrocolloid withdraws the excess fluid. It prevents you from picking and touching the affected area. 

Do hydrocolloid bandages unclog pores? 

NO! It does not. Hydrocolloid bandages are specifically designed for transforming into a gel-forming substance to draw the pus and heal the skin. If you have blackheads or whiteheads, it will not work. 

Do hydrocolloid patches work on unpopped pimples?

Yes, it does. It draws out the pus from the unpopped pimples, making them less swollen and less inflamed. Furthermore, it helps your body’s natural enzymes to work faster for the pimple to heal. 

What is a disadvantage of a hydrocolloid dressing? 

It might be difficult to address the wound area and even curls up on the edges. If you are prone to sensitive skin, it could be a little uncomfortable and might cause skin irritation.

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