Welcome to your skin check-in with Life & Style’s resident health and beauty expert, Dr. Will Kirby, a celebrity dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer of LaserAway. Every week, he’ll be spilling his candid thoughts and professional advice on all things skin, beauty and wellness as it relates to you — and your favorite stars.

Hydrocolloid bandages are adhesive pads covering a gauze dressing that traditionally have been used to heal wounds and protect sensitive parts of the body. Called an ‘acne hack’ by social media mavens, hydrocolloid patches have been reengineered to be much smaller, infused with over-the-counter anti-blemish ingredients and are now commonly utilized to treat acne breakouts!

How do hydrocolloid patches work?

Their flexible, gentle adhesive cover creates a protective film that is applied to the top of a breakout. By offering a protective seal over the lesion the patch can absorb excess fluid such as oil and pus and theoretically can diminish the length of time that a zit will be present by reducing inflammation and redness.

Some also put acne fighting ingredients directly in contact with the blemish — and one of the absolute best things about the hydrocolloid patches are that they prevent you from manual manipulation of an acne lesion. Put another way, placing the small stickers on the surface will prevent you from picking a zit, prolonging the duration and making it worse!

The problem with using hydrocolloid patches to treat acne is that there are multiple different types of acne and there isn’t a best ‘one-size-fits-all’ acne treatment. So, hydrocolloid patches can absolutely help with a single inflamed, closed comedone (whitehead, but they should not be used on skin that has been picked at, is open/raw or a zit that has been squeezed and is now angry.

Moreover, they can’t be used for the common cystic acne that women often get near their menstrual cycle that appears on the jawline. Those lesions are too deep to respond to a surface treatment. Hydrocolloid patches also can’t help with open comedones (blackheads) and aren’t the best option for back acne.

Safe and effective for the right type of acne, hydrocolloid bandages are a great weapon in your fight against acne, and should be a mainstay in your medicine cabinet, applied at the very first sign of an impending blemish!