That acne pimple is coming to a head. It's sore, maybe a bit itchy, and is ruining your complexion. We know we shouldn't pop it, but it's hard to resist the urge.
It's only after popping it that we realize we look even worse. Ugh.
The good news is that dermatologists have a trick for healing popped pimples overnight using a product you can buy for a few dollars at a drugstore.
This will reduce inflammation and discoloration and smooth the area around the popped pimple.
So what's the secret?
The secret is a small adhesive bandage called a hydrocolloid dressing. Dermatologists use these to help heal biopsy sites, surgical wounds, and ulcers. But they have another use too. When applied to the site of a popped pimple, they absorb pus and oil from acne blemishes, removing the stuff that causes the popped pimple to look so bad.
How does a hydrocolloid dressing work?
After a pimple is popped, a dry scab forms. This dryness prevents healing by making it hard for the bad stuff to move through the crust or scab to leave your skin. Hydrocolloid dressings promote healing by creating a moist environment and drawing pus and oil out of the inflamed area.
These dressings typically have an adhesive inner layer which creates a moist environment and a breathable outer layer which protects the area from dirt and bacterial contamination.
For those who want the medical details: The active internal layer contains molecules of carboxymethylcellulose suspended in a mass of gelatin and pectin. These types of suspensions are referred to as “hydrocolloids.” This hydrocolloid absorbs the serum that a wound produces, forming a soft gel. The pH is lowered, creating an acidic environment that prevents bacterial growth.
How do you use a hydrocolloid dressing to heal a popped pimple?
Cleanse the area with your favorite cleanser. Cetaphil and CeraVe make excellent cleansers that we often recommend to our acne patients at PocketDerm.
Gently pat the area dry.
Apply a hydrocolloid bandage over the popped pimple. (You may need to cut the bandage down to the appropriate size.)
Leave it on overnight or as long as possible. (It's OK to shower with it and wear it the next day.)
Where can I buy these?
You can buy these bandages at most drugstores or online. Here are links to some of the most popular brands:
While I mostly use the DuoDERM Dressing in my practice, the Nexcare covers are sized specifically for acne so are probably easiest to use at home.
Nancy Satur, MD, FAAD
Dr. Nancy Satur is a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of PocketDerm, which enables patients to see a dermatologist online for comprehensive acne treatment. Dr. Satur received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College, completed her residency at Case Western Reserve University, and is currently based in San Diego, CA. LinkedIn.
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