The hype surrounding hydrocolloid bandages: Skincare benefits, uses, and more

The hype surrounding hydrocolloid bandages: Skincare benefits, uses, and more

Wrap it up

Text: Crystal Lim

Editor: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | get_rael

It's an acne sticker, a decorative patch, it's... a hydrocolloid bandage. That's right – we're talking the round, five-cent coin-sized swathe commonly found plastered over small wounds and blisters; a gel-textured strip designed to absorb excess fluid such as oil and pus. Sure, we know what it does, but do we know how it works? That seems to be the question on everyone's minds these days, with its prevalence and frequency of use growing as seen on TikTok. And so, we've compiled a helpful guide on said coverings — from the brands to try to the science behind its efficacy. Let's get started.

What are hydrocolloid bandages, exactly?

Think of them as a biodegradable and permeable opaque dressing used for wounds and treatment of eczema, sensitised skin and acne. Made of cross-linked matrix gelatin, pectin and carboxymethyl-cellulose, they can be formulated into wafers, pastes or powders. Since they adhere to wounds on their own, it creates a moist environment by trapping water within the infected areas and allows wound to heal without softening or breaking down of tissues. Most hydrocolloid bandages are also waterproof, which thus allows you to bathe with it on.

When should we be using them?

There are a lot of uses for these bad boys. The rule of thumb, however, is that it can be used to treat all kinds of uninfected wounds. These dressings are applied to clean wounds, burnt wounds or even on the face for acne. It doesn't just get rid of acne, but it does prevent further scarring. Talk about a potent fix for all those nasty zits, huh? In cases of eczema, it effectively seals steroid ointment beneath it and creates a barrier against scratching. Not forgetting, of course, how they work as waterproof cushions to protect and prevent nasty blisters from highly impractical footwear.

But do they really work?

Yes, it works. But only for select conditions, typically for surface-level ones such as clean burnt wounds, eczema, blisters, and superficial acne. It would not be effective for chronic and cystic acne because these bandages are plastered on the skin's surface and not likely to penetrate deeper into cell levels needed to treat serious forms of acne conditions. It performs well for superficial zits simply because these patches work like a sponge to remove residue pus and oil,  plus acts as a barrier for us to refrain from picking those blemishes.

What are some noteworthy brands to know about?


A health brand under 3M, Nexcare caters to a range of skin issues. Their hydrocolloid tech is known to be effective in treating wounds, blisters, pimples, and the like.


The Minneapolis-based premium bandage company offers a range of dressings in aesthetically-pleasing tin boxes that are durable, portable and storable. Their Face Saver and Thin Tin clear spot bandages are designed to discretely cover blemishes while also expediting healing.

Rael Beauty

For those with acne clusters on your faces, the extra-large hydrocolloid Spot Control Cover from Rael Beauty might be a good alternative to the usual small circular bandages. Designed for wide coverage and to target cluster acne-prone areas across cheeks, nose, and chin.

Hero Cosmetic

A mighty hero indeed, Hero Cosmetic's Mighty Patch Original has rave reviews aplenty from users worldwide. Made of premium medical grade hydrocolloid, it extracts all the impurities from your zits as you sleep, allowing you to wake up to clearer-looking skin the next day.