Do Hydrocolloid Bandages for Acne Actually Work?

It’s 2021, and chaos is all around us. We’re in the midst of extreme political turmoil, celebrity gossip has officially gone off the rails, and over on TikTok, teens are covering their entire face in bandages in the name of good skin. 

The bandages aren’t for recovering from a pandemic nose job—although those are on the rise—but yet another weapon in the never-ending war against acne. In a trend that appears to be started by user @May_us, whose video has racked up more than 1.8 million views, users are covering large swathes of their faces with hydrocolloid bandages, clear dressings that are traditionally used to heal blisters and wounds. 

“Hydrocolloid is a hydrophilic material that attracts water,” says Shereene Idriss, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. “Traditionally, it’s used on open wounds to promote a moist environment and decrease healing time. With regards to acne, it helps to decrease the intensity of a pimple by extracting the inflammatory exudate without physical manipulation.” In other words, it sucks out the fluid, leaving white specks on the once clear bandage, without risking the scarring that comes from popping. 


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