Which acne patch is best?

Despite what many think, acne doesn’t only happen to teenagers. If you have just woken up and noticed a pimple, or you simply want to make sure you have the necessary supplies on hand to treat the inevitable future breakout, acne patches are the answer. These hydrocolloid bandages help keep the area sterile while drawing out pus and other fluids so that your blemish heals quicker. 

Like the Hero Cosmetics The Original Mighty Patch, many options use limited ingredients, so there is no potential for irritation. Despite that, these are still very effective at combating whiteheads and other surface-level pimples.

What to know before you buy an acne patch

Types of acne

Before choosing an acne patch, it is essential to determine what type of acne you have. Certain kinds of patches work better on specific types of acne. Some forms of acne won’t respond to patches at all. 

Blackheads fall into the category of acne that generally doesn’t respond to treatment from patches. These occur when excess oil, dirt and bacteria get trapped inside the pore, but the pore stays open. Eventually, exposure to air causes the buildup to turn an unsightly black.  Patches generally can’t help with blackheads because an underlying infection doesn’t typically accompany them.

Whiteheads, on the other hand, do respond well to patches. These also occur when dirt and bacteria get trapped in the pore, but unlike with blackheads on which the pores stay open, the pore is closed on a whitehead, resulting in pus building up inside it.

Papules are small red bumps of inflamed skin that form when a pore is blocked by oil and bacteria. However, they don’t build up with pus-like whiteheads. These also usually respond well to acne patches.

Pustules are similar to papules in that they are small red bumps on inflamed skin, but these have a white center filled with pus. These often, but not always, form in clusters and can be treated with acne patches. 

Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne. It is an infection that occurs deep beneath the skin that presents as large, inflamed bumps filled with pus and often painful. Though difficult to treat, it does respond to some types of acne patches.

Nodular acne is often confused with cystic acne because it presents similarly and is also an infection deep below the skin. You can tell the difference between these two because nodular acne is hard to the touch, whereas cystic acne is softer since it is filled with pus. Like cystic acne, nodular acne only responds to certain kinds of patches.

How acne patches work

Acne patches are available in three types: medicated, non-medicated and micro-needling. Each of these works in a different manner.

Medicated acne patches contain topical aids like salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil and niacinamide that reduce inflammation, fight infection and help a blemish heal quicker. They are effective on whiteheads, papules and pustules. They can also help with mild cystic or nodular acne, which will be ineffective against more severe cases.

Non-medicated acne patches are basic hydrocolloid bandages that help with wound healing by drawing out pus and oil. They also keep the area sterile and prevent you from picking at your acne, hindering the healing process. These are best for surface-level acne, like whiteheads, papules and pustules.

Micro-needling acne patches contain very fine, dissolving needles on the hydrocolloid bandage that penetrate the upper layers of skin to deliver the topicals deeply. These are the best types of patches if trying to treat cystic or nodular acne.

Features to look for in a quality acne patch


Acne patches use various ingredients that can help heal wounds and blemishes in different ways. Some common beneficial ingredients include tea tree oil, white willow bark extract, calendula oil, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and benzoyl peroxide. 


Acne patches come in packages with as few as 10 patches or as many as 200. Those who don’t get breakouts may only need to keep 10 or 20 patches in their home. However, those who have to deal with regular breakouts should purchase a larger package because they often have a lower per-patch cost.


Since not all blemishes are the same size, most companies sell more than one size of the patch. Variety packages come with patches in two or three sizes. Generally speaking, if you only need to treat whiteheads, pustules and papules, small patches should suffice. If you are combating cystic or nodular acne, larger patches are often necessary.


The majority of acne patches are as inconspicuous as possible. To that end, they are usually clear or available in colors that will match specific skin tones. That said, there are also some colorful options and whimsical designs available if you prefer.

How much you can expect to spend on an acne patch

Standard non-medicated acne patches cost between 5-35 cents per patch. For medicated patches, expect to spend anywhere from 10 cents to $1.20 per patch, depending on the ingredients and the size of the patch. Micro-needling patches are the most expensive and often cost 50 cents to $3 per patch.

Acne patch FAQ

How long am I supposed to wear an acne patch?

A. Most experts recommend wearing an acne patch for at least six hours for optimal effectiveness. On particularly troublesome pimples, you may want to leave the patch on for as long as 10 or 12 hours. After that point, they begin to lose effectiveness, and it is best to replace them with a new patch.

Can an acne patch damage my skin?

A. As long as they are used as directed, acne patches will not damage the skin. However, if you have to use them repeatedly in the same spot, they can cause dryness, so you may want to consider using an oil-free moisturizer between applications.

What is the best acne patch to buy?

Top acne patch

Hero Cosmetics The Original Mighty Patch 

Hero Cosmetics The Original Mighty Patch 

What you need to know: These powerful patches are lauded for their fast results.

What you’ll love: They stick to the skin well and turn white to let you know when it’s time to remove them.

What you should consider: They won’t work for deep forms of acne like cystic and nodular.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Top acne patch for the money

Avarelle Acne Cover Patch

Avarelle Acne Cover Patch

What you need to know: This medicated option comes with a blend of patch sizes to treat small and large pimples alike.

What you’ll love: The patches are clear to blend in seamlessly with your skin, and they are Leaping Bunny certified as a cruelty-free product.

What you should consider: Some of the ingredients may irritate those with sensitive skin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Worth checking out

Rael Microcrystal Acne Healing Patch

Rael Microcrystal Acne Healing Patch

What you need to know: Designed to deliver medication deep into the skin, these patches can help those dealing with cystic and nodular acne. 

What you’ll love: They work well on early-stage acne, so you can stop pimples in their tracks before they ever come to a head.

What you should consider: They are more expensive than many other patches.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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