Do Blister Plasters Work on Spots? The Cheap Alternative to Acne Patches

Do Blister Plasters Work on Spots? The Cheap Alternative to Acne Patches
8 February 2022

Do Blister Plasters Work on Spots? The Cheap Alternative to Acne Patches

A new viral hack has taken social media by storm—using hydrocolloid blister patches on acne and spots to relieve the symptoms and get rid of blemishes faster. We’ve all seen the videos and posts showing the before and after when someone uses a blister plaster on a pimple or patch of blemishes.

So what’s the truth behind the story? As long-time proprietors of plasters and dressings, we thoroughly looked into this trend to find out if it really does work.

@chloez.321 100% recommend! Couldn’t wait the whole 8 hours myself so here’s the results. Part 2 #hydrocolloidbandages #foryoupage ♬ original sound - Chloe

What is a hydrocolloid?

While many touting the effects of this hack on social media refer to blister plasters, the active ingredient that produces results is called a hydrocolloid. So if you want to get rid of a spot, ensure you use a plaster or dressing with a hydrocolloid layer in the wound pad.

A hydrocolloid dressing has several functions that help to heal a wound:

They reduce inflammation icon

Benefit 1

They reduce inflammation.

They draw excess fluids out of the wound icon

Benefit 2

They draw excess fluids out of the wound.

They create a protective, waterproof barrier against the outside world icon

Benefit 3

They create a protective, waterproof barrier against the outside world.

They do not adhere to the wound, meaning no skin damage occurs when they are removed icon

Benefit 4

They do not adhere to the wound, meaning no skin damage occurs when they are removed.

They provide a moist environment conducive to new cell growth, allowing the body to heal using its enzymes icon

Benefit 5

They provide a moist environment conducive to new cell growth, allowing the body to heal using its enzymes.

Find out about hydrocolloid plasters in detail in our blog.

When you apply a hydrocolloid dressing, the wound pad's hydrocolloid layer supports the body's natural healing process by drawing out any fluids that soak into the pad to form a hydrated gel layer. This acts as a sort of ‘scab’ over the wound, maintaining a humid environment where the body can get on with healing. When the dressing is removed, all the bacteria and fluid go with it. If the dressing has an adhesive border around it, it will fully protect the area from bacteria while it heals.

Hydrocolloid plasters are commonly used on burn wounds and blisters where the body produces fluid between the layers of skin. A hydrocolloid dressing is a way of draining the wound safely, where infection risk is minimised, and there’s little trauma to the area.

How do acne patches work?

The reason hydrocolloid plasters have blown up so much for use on spots is that they work in almost exactly the same way. Pimple patches are designed with a hydrocolloid layer so they draw fluid and pus out of the spot overnight, significantly reducing its appearance by the morning.

Another not-so-obvious benefit of the pimple patch is that it protects your skin from the temptation to pick, something that easily causes further inflammation, infection, bleeding, and even scarring.

So, how do blister plasters work on spots? The process is much the same as using a hydrocolloid plaster on a blister. It works by drawing out fluids, reducing inflammation and helping the skin recover.

Some acne patches have added benefits, like micro darts that target nodules and cysts deep below the skin surface and ingredients like vitamin A, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil. But the main function of almost all acne patches is the ability to draw out fluid and create a safe environment for the skin to heal.

Here’s a comparison of hydrocolloid plasters and spot patches. As you can see, all the essential functions are exactly the same.

Hydrocolloid PlastersSport Patches
Prevents picking
Soft and flexible, comfy to wear?
Remove excess fluids
Discreet, can be worn during the day?XSome designs
Come in spot-ready sizes?X

Our hydrocolloid plasters have all the same functions as an acne patch, but they’re larger and cheaper than many brands. As a leading plaster brand, all our plasters are carefully designed to be gentle on the skin.

Do blister plasters work on acne or just occasional spots?

Are blister plasters good for spots? Some spots are more susceptible to the benefits of a hydrocolloid dressing than others. Because of the way they work, hydrocolloid plaster and acne patches produce the best results when used on spots in certain stages.

The Lifecycle of a Spot 

  1. A pore becomes clogged with dirt, and a build-up of sebum and dead skin cells forms a plug over the top of the pore, preventing it from clearing itself naturally. This results in a comedo. Comedones can present as blackheads (when the clog is open to the air and oxidises, resulting in a dark colour) or whiteheads (when the clog is beneath the skin's surface).
  2. Bacteria trapped in the pore causes it to become infected and inflamed, and the spot may present as a sensitive red bump on the skin's surface. The spot may be one of the following types:
    1. A cyst: a deep-sitting pus accumulation beneath the skin.
    2. A nodule: a hard and deep-sitting bump beneath the skin.
    3. A pustule: a red bump on the skin’s surface with pus that may be visible under a thin layer of skin.
    4. A papule: a red bump on the surface of the skin.
  3. The spot may either reduce in size and disappear on its own or scab over (if it is picked at) and may produce hyperpigmentation (dark colouration on the skin) for some time.

While a hydrocolloid is capable of drawing out impurities from the skin’s surface, it’s not strong enough to attack a deep-sitting spot. Because of this, you’re likely to get the best results from a spot patch or hydrocolloid plaster if you use it on a pustule or papule, so look for a spot that is quite close to the skin’s surface and even shows some white pus at the top of it. 

Hydrocolloid dressings can remove the fluid in a spot over just one night, whereas, normally, a spot may take around a week to heal on its own. Protecting your skin from the temptation of picking also means you’re avoiding long-lasting hyperpigmentation.

What do Dermatologists say about hydrocolloid plasters for spots?

The consensus from dermatologists is that hydrocolloid plasters are as effective as acne patches. MensHealth interviewed Dr Joshua Zeichner, Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, who said that the premise behind both the hydrocolloid dressing and the pimple patch is the same, and while hydrocolloids were initially invented to treat wounds, they are also effective on spots. 

Dermatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Susan Massick, wrote an article in which she explained that hydrocolloid dressings have the same effect as acne patches with virtually no downsides. She even says that acne patches sometimes contain ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which can have irritating properties if left on the skin for too long (whereas hydrocolloid patches do not contain these).

Hydrocolloid plasters are also better for your skin than pore strips which can be too harsh and potentially damaging to the skin when pulled off. As explained by dermatologist Dr Aamna Adel in the video below, rather than putting undue stress on the skin, a hydrocolloid plaster offers the same function of drawing out impurities in a much gentler way that minimises trauma.

How to Use Hydrocolloid Plasters on Spots

  1. Remove make-up and wash the area with your normal face wash.
  2. Pat the skin dry and apply the hydrocolloid plaster directly over the spot.
  3. Press down on the adhesive edges.
  4. When you need to remove the plaster, slowly pull from the adhesive edges. Wet the adhesive if it’s difficult or painful to remove.

You can continue your normal skincare routine over the top of the plaster once applied, but don’t apply the plaster over moisturised skin as this will affect the adhesive.

When can blister plasters be used on spots?

We’ve already explained the best stage in the spot life cycle to go in with a hydrocolloid patch, but can you use blister plasters on spots any time of the day? While lots of acne patches are designed to look cute or highly discreet, hydrocolloid patches aren’t made for this purpose so they’re usually quite large. 

This is beneficial because you get more hydrocolloid dressing for your money, but if you choose to wear your plaster out, it’ll definitely be noticeable. Because of this, we recommend applying your plasters before bed so you can get the most of the benefits without being confined indoors waiting.

Although they are similar in function, acne patches are usually more expensive than standard hydrocolloid plasters, as many brands know that consumers are willing to pay more for a product that feels like a luxury or a speciality. 

If you want to try out the purse-friendly alternative to the acne patch, you can order hydrocolloid plasters from our website.

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