- Best Results1-6 weeks
- Treatment RecoveryNA
- Procedure Time2 minutes
- Skin SpecialistYou, with help from me
- Duration of ResultsLong-term
- Back to WorkImmediately
Pimple or acne patches are simply one of the most effective ways to prevent acne scarring, especially if you are a habitual picker. They range in price from a few cents to a few dollars & can be found in supermarkets & chemists throughout the world. They are especially useful in treating hormonal acne, & picking acne.
FactsFacts on Pimple Patches
- The simplest way to stop picking is to provide a barrier
- Hydrocolloids (HC) are absorbable ultra-thin patches
- HC absorbs fluid, including exudate & pus from pimples
- HC also provides a sterile environment for optimal healing post acne
- Patches can reduce transmission of UV light, reducing post inflammatory pigmentation
- Microdart patches contain dissolvable microneedles that release chemicals
- Chemicals can address concerns such as pigmentation & scars
- Patches should be incorporated into your skincare routine especially if you suffer from intermittent acne breakouts
What are pimple patches?
Acne patches are ultra-thin dressings that are applied to pimples. Depending on the type of patch, they are suitable for the very earliest zit or to treat scarring & pigmentation from old pimples. Pimple patches can be classed as hydrocolloid patches or microdart – microneedle patches. More on these patches below.
Why do I endorse pimple patches?
Because they work. Patches, in particular hydrocolloid (HC) patches are the most effective way to prevent habitual picking. If you stop picking, you will markedly minimise the chances of acne scars.
HC patches also protect healing spots from UV light, reducing the chances of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
What are hydrocolloid patches?
Hydrocolloid or HC is a wound dressing that absorbs water due to the high cellulose content. This dressing is still one of the best for ulcers. HC technology has taken a huge step forward in the past decade as patches are super-thin, yet absorbable & tough due to the polyurethane coating.
HC patches absorb water, reduces TEWL trans epidermal water loss & provides a moist, occlusive environment for optimal wound healing. This means less scarring. These patches are very cost effective, ranging from 5 to 40 cents a patch. They markedly reduce the habits of acne excoriee or skin picking.
What are microdart microneedle patches?
This is a smart patch & differs from hydrocolloids by delivery of skin care actives directly into the epidermis. MicroDarts, as the name suggests, consists of microscopic dissolvable needles on the underside of the patch. These needles penetrate the skin’s outer barrier known as the stratum corneum.
Microneedles dissolve & deliver the active ingredients over 2 to 4 hours. Application of microdarts is painless as they only penetrate the outer most layer of skin, devoid of nerve cells.
What active ingredients do microdarts contain?
Microdarts hold a reservoir of chemicals, depending on the type of dart. These include-
- Hyaluronic acid- for wrinkles, scars & collagen remodelling
- Retinol- for anti-aging, pigment & scars
- Arbutin- to reduce skin pigmentation secondary to acne
- Ascorbic acid- to help with pigmentation & collagen remodelling
- Peptides- for collagen
- Green tea- antioxidants
What’s my view on microdart microneedling?
These sophisticated pimple patches are between 20 to 40 times more expensive compared to simple hydrocolloid dressings. They are manufactured in Korea using patented technology. The question is, are these darts more effective than simple skin care? There are no head-to-head studies showing the efficacy of dart vs topical creams, or better still, darts vs sensible depth DIY microneedling. With each dart costing up to $4-5 dollars, treating one pimple scar adds up to around $130 per month. You be the judge.
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How do patches reduce scarring?
Pimple patches are probably the most underrated treatment for preventing & treating early acne scars. The patches aid in wound healing & scar formation by;
- Stopping further trauma/picking
- Providing an optimal environment for scarless wound healing
- Reducing UV transmission hence reduces post inflammatory pigmentation
- Reduces wound infections thus scars
- Release collagen stimulating factors that remodel scars
- Release pigment inhibitors that reduce PIH
The best form of scar treatment is prevention, hence why pimple patches are awesome.
Why are pimple patches the best treatment for picking acne?
Patches reduce picking by providing haptic feedback. This is a form of cognitive behaviour therapy. When you touch your skin the presence of the patch alerts you that you are attempting to pick.
Patches stop the majority of skin pickers; you must be highly motivated to pick if you pick through the patch or remove it. If this applies to you- see a psychologist.
Can pimple patches really reduce PIH - pigmentation caused by acne?
Yes. Post-inflammatory pigmentation (PIH) is a sequela of both trauma & UV radiation. Hydrocolloid patches reduce skin picking & light transmission, hence PIH can be prevented.
Micro Dart patches contain a slow release of pigment correctors such as ascorbic acid, azelaic acids, arbutin, tranexamic acid, alpha & beta hydroxy acids.
How to integrate pimple patches with skin care?
Pimple patches are used for acute (fresh) acne spots, whilst skincare products are for older acne spots. As a guide, patches should be initially applied for 2-4 days to fresh pimples, zits & pustules. Once dried out, transition your skincare to topical creams.
Creams include niacinamide for red spots as this is anti-inflammatory. Niacinamide is also great for re-establishing skin barrier function after a breakout. Ascorbic acid is good for brown marks, as it reduces pigmentation. Retinol can be used if you are prone to scarring, as this stimulates collagen production & aids in wound healing.
Where to get pimple patches?
Just about everywhere. They are found in Chemist Warehouse, Woolworths & other supermarkets, as well as online stores. Expensive does not mean better, in most cases you are paying for branding & packaging (exceptions are microdarts).
My advice, buy a few packets, try then decide.
How much are patches?
Super affordable. They are by far the most cost-effective way of preventing acne scarring. Patches start from only a few cents per patch for hydrocolloids. You can find these in supermarkets, pharmacies or online.
Microdarts are much more expensive, costing between 50 cents to $5 per patch. These pimple patches are high tech with time release formulations. I don’t know whether they are bang for your buck compared to creams.
What is a good skin care routine that involves pimple patches?
AM: Salicylic acid 2% wash, hydrocolloid patches to new acne spots. Niacinamide or ascorbic acid to old acne spots.
PM: Take off HC patch from the AM, wash with Salicylic acid 2%, reapply HC patches to new zits, apply retinol to old pimples.
*The choice of retinol, niacinamide & or ascorbic acid depends on your skin sensitivity. I suggest starting on niacinamide only, then adding retinol or ascorbic acid after 4-8 weeks.
What are other simple DIY treatments for acne?
Pimple patches should be used with other DIY – home remedies. This includes-
- Diet: a balanced low sugar diet with no dairy can help.
- Lifestyle choices: make up free for 2 days a week does wonders for your skin.
- Washes: include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
- Skin care: including retinol, retinoids, niacinamide, salicylic acid, & other topicals. Refer to the relevant section on this website.
What are sensible DIY treatments for acne scars that you can incorporate with patches?
Microdart patches are useful for treating or preventing skin colour changes associated with acne. If you have dark patches, ascorbic, kojic, glycolic, citric, lactic, & tranexamic acids can be useful. If you have red patches, anti-inflammatory chemicals like niacinamide & green tea are common ingredients.
Patches can be augmented with sensible home microneedling using a stamper. Refer to the relevant section. Stamping every 7-14 days with a 0.2 to 0.25 mm device, then adding vitamin C or retinol can be a useful way of reducing pigmentation & acne scar.
When to see a dermatologist?
If you are struggling with acne & or heal with scarring, you should consider seeing my colleagues. Active acne can lead to long term scarring. Dermatologists employ many different methods to treat resistant acne including-
- Peels; AHA & high strength BHA – salicylic acid peels
- Phototherapy including LED, vascular lasers & IPL
- Prescription retinoid creams & tablets
- Antihormone tablets like the pill, spironolactone or cyproterone acetate
My colleagues can also investigate your acne to rule out any hormonal imbalances such as PCOS.
Disclaimer: I do not treat acne, my work is focused on procedural dermatology, namely surgical, injectable & laser work.
Davin’s viewpoint on acne patches
Often overlooked by dermatologists, patches are awesome. They are THE most cost-effective way of preventing acne scarring, especially in habitual pickers. Regular use can break the habit of skin picking as it provides a barrier & reminder not to pick.
HC or hydrocolloid has been used for decades as a hydrophilic wound dressing for suppurative ulcers. The cellulose ‘active’ coupled with a tough polyurethane backing makes it impervious to water & picking. The patch swells up as it absorbs excess fluid, including pus. They are typically changed 2-3 times a day. New tech has made these patches super small, thin, & comfortable to use.
Microdart patches can deliver a myriad of chemicals including vaccines (think Covid vaccine), hormones, diabetic meds, as well as cosmeceuticals including tranexamic acid, retinol, hyaluronic acids, citric, lactic, glycolic & salicylic acids. These super high-tech patches are made in Korea, with only a few companies in the World that are able to produce infinitely small darts. Over a period of 2-4 hours (or longer), the darts release their chemicals.
Patches can be combined with skin care, or as part of a proper medically prescribed acne treatment. They are readily available from all pharmacies & supermarkets. Get some, it will save your face. They are that good.
Disclaimer: I do not treat acne as my work is entirely procedural. Please see one of my colleagues at Cutis.
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