It’s such an “uh oh!” moment when the night before a big day, your skin starts to slightly itch, tingle, and, finally, produce a raised bump. A new pimple is born.

As you frantically Google a quick and effective overnight treatment, acne patches might be one of the first things you find.

But wait.

Before you jump on the acne-patch wagon, it’s important to understand the different types of acne patches. Each of them are targeted to treat different types of acne. When used correctly, they may help to speed up the recovery process and even prevent scarring.

However, when used incorrectly, you’ll simply be flushing your money and time down the drain.

If you’re trying to figure out which acne patches are suitable for your acne, this article is for you.

There are a number of benefits to using acne patches, from keeping you from picking your acne and preventing further irritation to providing UV protection to aiding in the healing process.

General Tips for Using Acne Patches
  • Make sure to clean your face and hands before you apply them.
  • Pick the size that best fits the whole lesion in the center of the patch.
  • Gently stick them on dry skin as the first step of your routine, especially for hydrocolloid patches.
  • Let them sit for at most 24 hours or until the patches turn into an opaque color. When they’ve turned opaque, you know they’ve sucked out the debris from the pores.

Just like there are different types of acne, there are different types of acne patches to treat them. Here’s a brief breakdown of the types of acne patches, when to use them, and some suggested products:

Types of acneWhich patch to useProducts
• papules
• pustules
• nodular or cystic acne
medicated• Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($30 for72 dots), here
• Apieu Nanco Tea Tree Spot Patch Set, here
• Innisfree Jeju Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Patch, here
• pimples
• whiteheads
non-medicated• COSRX Acne Blemish Cover, here
• Hero Mighty Patch, here
• Nexcare Acne blemish cover, here
• deep nodular or cystic acnemicroneedle• Acropass, here.
• A’pieu, Madecassoside Needle Spot Patch, here
• boH, Derma Shot Micro Solution, here

Medicated acne patches are filled with active ingredients that help to kill the acne-causing bacteria and soothe inflammation. The patches enhance the absorption of the active ingredients into the skin.

They help to reduce the bumps, pain, and redness of the acne, and can be effective when treating inflamed acne, like papules. They may also help to reduce the size of lesions caused by nodular or cystic acne. The most common active ingredients of these patches are salicylic acid and tea tree oil.

I recommend trying:

  • Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots ($30 for 72 dots) on Amazon
  • A’pieu Nanco Tea Tree Spot Patch Set on Amazon
  • Innisfree Bija Anti-Trouble Spot Patch on Amazon
Pro Tips
  • For this type of acne patch, you’re not restricted to put it on as the first step of your routine. You can put it on over other products, but just keep in mind that you want the active ingredients to absorb into the skin. So, put them on before an occlusive moisturizer, which helps prevents water loss.
  • Look for words or phrases like “active ingredients,” “salicylic acid,” or “tea tree oil.”

Non-medicated acne patches are another name for hydrocolloid bandages, which are most commonly used for post-surgical wounds to help speed up the healing process.

Non-medicated acne patches differ slightly in that they’ve been cut mostly in a circle shape to fit the size of pimples. They’re also incredibly thin, which means they’re less noticeable if you decide to wear them out in public.

These patches work by:

  • sucking out the moisture from your pores
  • preventing another infection
  • serving as a moisture barrier that’ll help to speed up recovery and prevent the formation of acne scars

I recommend tying:

Pro Tips
  • It’s best to use these patches when your pimple is showing a white or yellow head.
  • Look for the words “non-medicated” or “hydrocolloid patches” on the packaging.
  • Don’t apply the patches after toner, essences, or serum. This will reduce their effectiveness, and you’ll waste your products.

Though the word “needle” may cause you some concern, worry not. Microneedle acne patches aren’t as scary as they sound, and they can be totally pain-free.

These patches contain dissolving microneedles – very fine, tiny needles – on one side and should be used to help treat cystic or nodular acne. The patches can help penetrate and deliver active ingredients to a deeper layer of the skin where it’s needed.

While their effectiveness may vary depending on the person and the depth of the acne lesion itself, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

I recommend trying:

  • Acropass by Soko Glam
  • A’pieu Madecassoside Needle Spot Patch on Amazon
  • boH Derma Shot Micro Solution on Amazon
Pro Tips
  • Just like non-medicated acne patches, make sure to use these patches as the first step in your routine.
  • Make sure not to touch the microneedle side while applying the patches. You don’t want more bacteria to get inside your skin.

Although it sounds like a promising and potentially no-pain, risk-free acne treatment, acne patches may not work on all different types of acne. For example, acne patches may not work as effectively on blackheads.

Hydrocolloid patches aren’t comparable to regular pore strips and may not be strong enough to remove the blackheads.

Acne patches also won’t help solve the root cause of the acne itself.

While acne patches can come in handy, it’s so important to use them on the appropriate lifespan of acne. I like to use acne patches when I need to quickly reduce the appearance of acne on a special event or big day.

I hope this article helps you decide which acne patches are most suitable for you.


Claudia is a skin care and skin health enthusiast, educator, and writer. She’s currently pursuing her PhD in dermatology in South Korea and runs a skin care-focused blog so she can share her skin care knowledge with the world. Her hope is for more people to be conscious about what they put on their skin. You can also check out her Instagram for more skin-related articles and ideas.