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Can hydrocolloid bandages help with acne? Dermatologists weigh in on TikTok trend

Devotees report the skin care hack works just as well as pricey pimple patches.
/ Source: TODAY

Are Band-Aids the breakout star of the pimple-fighting game?

Some TikTok users — including beauty enthusiast Shannon Bruno — swear that hydrocolloid dressings designed to heal wounds can also clear up complexions.

"If you have acne with white pus and want it gone overnight, this is my best-kept secret. It’s only $3 at Walmart and will last you an entire month,” Bruno said in a viral video posted earlier this year.

Ella Rechner, a 21-year-old with cystic acne, was intrigued by Bruno’s trick, and purchased a box of large hydrocolloid gel bandages made by Band-Aid.

“I felt like I had nothing to lose,” Rechner told TODAY Health.

When Rechner removed the covering six hours later, she noticed a significant improvement.

“I couldn’t believe it. The inflammation went down and my face was smooth,” Rechner said. “It works.”

After Rechner shared the results to TikTok, she went from 400 followers to more than 53,000.


Trying the hydrocolloid bandages for acne. Like got Pt. 2 & results! #fyp #foryoupage #acne #hydrocolloid

♬ original sound - Ellaaaaa:)

According to Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., the hydrocolloid hack is a tried and true spot treatment. Friedman recommends wearing a dressing for two to three days, but notes it should be changed daily.

“Let’s say you wake up with a big, angry-looking nodule — if you put a hydrocolloid dressing on it — you’re protecting it from UV radiation, pollution and your own grabby hands. You’re also keeping the moisture that’s needed to push through various phases of healing,” Friedman told TODAY. “But just know it's not long-term strategy. It’s not won’t stop the next pimple from appearing.”

Though Dr. Michele Farber, of Schweiger Dermatology in Philadelphia, recommends hydrocolloid pimple patches to her patients, she says to proceed with caution if using a bandage.

“A Band-Aid itself can cause an allergic reaction and irritate sensitive skin,” Farber told TODAY. “I also wouldn’t recommend ripping a Band-Aid off your face. The sticky part is what concerns me.”

As skin care content on TikTok continues to go viral, it’s important to remember that many beauty trends are coming from non-experts and have the potential to cause harm.

“The good news is there are a lot of board-certified dermatologists on TikTok now,” Friedman said. “We go through years of training, we have our finger on the pulse on whats new in treatments. You know that person has the training to make a good recommendation.”