Acne is one of the most common skin conditions out there. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it affects up to 50 million Americans, both teens and adults, annually.
“While typically thought of as a skin condition of adolescence, acne is well known to persist into adulthood through the 30s, 40s and beyond,” says Dr. Katie Caretti, Michigan-based board-certified dermatologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Adult-onset acne or adult acne tends to be a bit more common in women and often more hormonally driven. “Fluctuating hormone levels, especially common around menstruation, can lead to increased sebum or oil production which can then lead to acne,” explains Dr. Caretti. Stress can also be a contributing factor as it leads to an increase in the production of androgen hormone that subsequently triggers acne breakouts, notes the dermatologist. Other than that, certain skincare products can also contribute to the formation of acne. This is why it’s important to look for products that are non-comedogenic and oil-free, as many comedogenic products will clog pores and exacerbate acne, adds the dermatologist.
While there’s no dearth of topical spot treatments, acne patches aka zit stickers are hands down one of the simplest (and trendiest) acne quick-fixes available in the market today.
First off, what are acne patches?
“Acne treatment patches are hydrocolloid dressings that work by extracting fluid from the acne lesions and providing an optimal wound healing environment,” explains Dr. Caretti.
Some acne patches contain additional zit-fighting ingredients (think salicylic acid, tea tree oil, witch hazel, etc.) which effectively reduce inflammation within the lesion, notes the skincare expert.
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In addition, “pimple patches also create an effective barrier to protect the skin from picking or secondary infection which could then lead to scarring,” says the skin specialist.
However, it’s important to note that acne patches are only meant to help heal a breakout more quickly, they are not going to prevent a breakout.
Who should use an acne patch?
While anyone can use acne dots, regardless of their skin type, they are typically most effective for treating early whiteheads. “By applying the patch overnight or for at least six hours, one can see a significant reduction in the inflammation and speed the healing of the acne lesion,” says Dr. Caretti.
However, they might not be of much help if you’re dealing with cystic acne. “Typically the inflammation of a cystic acne lesion is deeper and this technology may not penetrate deep enough to fully improve cystic acne,” Dr. Caretti points out.
“If a person is developing frequent cystic breakouts, they should seek the care of a board-certified dermatologist to develop a proper treatment plan so that permanent scarring can be avoided,” she suggests.
The best acne patches for 2021
Ready to experience the zit-zapping abilities of acne patches for yourself? Here are the best acne dots to try:
These derm-recommended pimple dots are infused with potent acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, aloe and vitamin A to gently treat acne blemishes, soothe redness and even out the skin while protecting the affected area from dirt, pollution and other environmental stressors.
These fan-favorite zit stickers are packed with salicylic acid and volcanic ash to combat breakouts and decongest pores. In addition, they contain bakuchiol to promote skin renewal and grape seed extract to fight free radical damage. Plus these vegan patches are sheer enough to be worn under makeup. What’s not to like?
Even the most stubborn pimples don’t stand a chance against these patches from Peach & Lilly that feature over 100 tiny, self-dissolving darts saturated with acne-fighting MVPs like salicylic acid and tea tree oil to rapidly shrink the appearance of the blemish. Plus they are infused with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to gently soothe and hydrate inflamed skin.
If you’re dealing with cystic acne, these pimple patches from A-beauty brand, Zitsticka, may be your best bet. Each patch features minuscule, self-dissolving microneedles that painlessly deliver active ingredients like salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid deep into the affected area to quickly soothe inflammation and expedite the healing process.
COSRX’s classic Master Patch is one of the most effective and pocket-friendly options out there. Each patch is infused with anti-inflammatory ingredients that help rapidly minimize the appearance of even stubborn zits while shielding them from picking and secondary infection.
Dr. Caretti recommends these clear acne patches from Alba Botanica. Formulated with powerful anti-inflammatory ingredients like witch hazel and tea tree oil, these patches suck out oil and gunk from pesky zits and help diminish redness and swelling—thus speeding up the healing process. Plus, they are formulated without any parabens, phthalates or artificial fragrance, making it a great spot treatment option for those who have sensitive skin.
There’s a reason why these acne patches are a cult classic when it comes to spot treatment. The hydrocolloid patches gently draw out fluid and other impurities from the zits to visibly shrink their appearance overnight. Plus, they work great on all skin types.
If you’re concerned about patch visibility, look no further than Rael’s Miracle Patch. These acne dots not only treat and accelerate the healing of stubborn zits but also offer seamless coverage thanks to a clear, matte finish.
“They are another excellent product that not only packed with salicylic acid and tea tree oil for fighting inflammation but also contain hyaluronic acid which helps hydrate and protect the skin from dryness and irritation,” says Dr. Caretti.