Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: 3M Nexcare Skin Care Acne Patch

***Discussion part is long because I added some studies and articles to it to make it more substanstial. There are also some pictures with exudates on the acne patch that may make you feel uncomfortable.***

Identifying Information
Product name: 3M Nexcare Skin Care Acne Patch Ladies
Price: PhP 145.00
Description: Water-based material that acts like a sponge to absorb the oily secretion, fluid or pus; Act as a barrier over the acne to reduce hand contact and infection; Waterproof yet breathable to improve healing
Product Origin: Singapore (?); It doesn't specifically indicate on the packaging where this was manufactured; however, the address of 3M in Singapore was on the box so I assume that it was made there. I will provide the exact information once I find it.^^
Where I bought it: Mercury Drug; So far I've only seen these patches in 4 branches:
> Mandaluyong City EDSA Central Pavilion
> Pasig City Meralco Commercial Strip (beside The Medical City)
> Makati City Comembo branch
> Pasig City Frontera Verde Fun Ranch
History: I discovered acne patches during my first trip to Korea in 2011. My friends and I saw many girls with a circular sticker or two on their faces and we later learned that those were patches designed to deliver anti-acne ingredients such as salicylic acid and tea tree oil to hasten the pimple's healing process. Those medicated acne patches were very thin, transparent and made of plastic. The acne patches I'm reviewing today are made of a different material. I will elaborate on that in the discussion part below.
I stumbled upon these ones from 3M Nexcare a few years ago while buying some medical supplies from the Mercury Drug branch beside The Medical City. I had no idea if it would work on my pimples or not and it was more of an impulsive buy but I am so glad that I bought them! 

Physical Examination: *Warning: Photos with exudates on acne patch ahead!*
3M Nexcare Acne Patch box front

3M Nexcare Acne Patch box back
3M Nexcare Acne Patch Ladies
Acne patches in the ladies' pack
3M Nexcare Acne Patch Fun Pack
Acne patches in the fun pack
3M Nexcare Acne Patch product insert
Product insert
3M Nexcare Acne Patch product insert
Product insert
3M Nexcare Acne Patch before and after
Left: newly applied patch on a pustular acne lesion
Right: after about 8 hours
3M Nexcare Acne Patch with absorbed exudates
Sorry, no "before" photo for this one. I had a huge pustular pimple on the center of my forehead. The patch absorbed all the pus and made it flat overnight! 
Salient Features
  • Absorbs exudates (pus) from pimples
    • Based on my experience, these acne patches work best on pustular acne i.e. those pimples with yellowish centers or visible "heads."
    • The absorbing power is superb. It can flatten a raging pustular pimple overnight! 
  • Comes in a box sealed with two stickers - one on top and one at the bottom - ensuring that what you're getting has not been tampered with. The actual patches are also inside a sterile pack. ♥ Of course once you've opened the sterile pack, the contents won't be sterile anymore. 
  • Protects pimples from manipulation, dirt and further infection
    • It covers the pimple well and keeps me from touching, picking, squeezing or popping those nasty lesions.
  • Adheres well on skin
    • It is important to remember that these patches are supposed to be applied on clean and dry skin for them to stick effectively. 
    • I usually use these patches at night. They don't move around or stick to my hair/pillows.
    • Applying these patches near parts of the face that move - like the area surrounding your lips - can cause them to detach prematurely. 
  • NOT PAINFUL to remove
    • It won't feel like you're removing a Band-Aid. I honestly don't feel anything when I remove it. 
    • It also does not cause any pain while it's on the pimple. It just quietly absorbs the life out of it!
  • No sticky residue is left after removal
  • Has not caused any allergic reaction* or further skin irritation on my skin
    • Has never aggravated any acne lesion I've applied it to
    • Has never caused me to have any atrophic (depressed) or hypertrophic (raised) scars
    • *Some people may be allergic to hydrocolloids, the material which these patches are made of.
  • Affordable
  • Come in a variety of shapes and sizes
    • There's the regular ladies pack that has 8mm x 24 patches and 12mm x 12 patches. They have a fun pack that comes with 12mm x 14 heart-shaped and 10mm x 14 star-shaped patches. There's also a pack that has bigger and wider patches for the forehead. 
  • Definitely obvious that you have something stuck on your face
    • The patch is almost a millimeter thick and is transparent but yellowish (the product description says it's skin colored and transparent, meehh) in color so it can be easily seen on the skin; well on my skin at least. It cannot be fully covered or hidden by make-up. 
    • People may stare at you because they're curious as to what that sticker on your face is. I don't mind this actually. I even use the heart- or star-shaped acne patches when I go out.^^
  • The outer surface is usually a bit sticky and this may make the acne patch stick onto other things and get displaced. To prevent it from getting removed prematurely, I usually just run my finger slowly and gently on top of the patch once it's in place to get rid of the stickiness. :) 
  • Limited availability
    • I've only seen these patches in Mercury Drug and not in other drugstores or department stores. There's a different brand of hydrocolloid acne patches in Watsons called Miacare but these ones from 3M Nexcare are far better than that when it comes to absorptive power.
    • The ones from Miacare are thinner, more suited for use under make-up and are able to cover the redness of pimples though!
Impression/Rating: 10/10; I currently consider this as my holy grail acne patch!

Discussion: The 3M Nexcare Acne Patches are made of a material called hydrocolloid. In an article by Wounds International entitled Pressure Ulcers and Hydrocolloids Made Easy, it is said that "hydrocolloid dressings are made from a layer of gel-forming material attached to a semi-permeable film or foam backing. The gel layer comprises an adhesive matrix that contains a combination of absorbent materials such as sodium carboxymethylcellulose, pectin and gelatin. The resulting dressing is absorbent and self adhesive, even in moist conditions." Basically, hydrocolloid dressings are meant to absorb exudates from wounds, or in the case of these patches, from acne. Hydrocolloid dressings also provide a moist environment optimal for healing and a barrier against other microorganisms to prevent further infection.

There is a study by Chao, et. al. published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2006 entitled "A pilot study on efficacy treatment of acne vulgaris using a new method: results of a randomized double-blind trial with Acne Dressing" wherein they compared the use of 3M Health Care hydrocolloid acne dressings to skin tapes. The study had 20 patients aged 11 to 35 years with mild to moderate facial acne vulgaris. 10 patients were in the Acne Dressing group and the other half were in the skin tape group. All patients were not allowed any other form of acne treatment aside from oral antibiotics. The study lasted for 1 week and both groups applied Acne Dressing or skin tapes on days 1, 3, 5 and 7. The dressings were put in place for 2 days before being replaced. 

I'm going to discuss the results now; if you want to know more about the methods and clinical assessments used in the study, you may read those by clicking on the link to the study posted above.

The study reported that at day 7, the severity of acne as assessed by patients and the physician, was significantly reduced in the Acne dressing group than in the skin tapes group. They reported a statistically significant difference in acne severity, redness, oiliness and dark pigmentation with the Acne Dressing group, showing an overall improvement over the skin tapes group. It also stated that all patients who used Acne Dressing considered that there was a moderate improvement in their condition. In the skin tapes group however, only 20% considered having moderate improvement with the treatment. Also, none of the patients in the Acne Dressing group reported any adverse effects or discomfort.

The authors of the study stated that based on their study, it is evident that "Acne Dressing is a new option by itself or in conjunction with oral antibiotics for treating acne, and can result in improvement in mildly and moderately inflamed papules." The hydrocolloid dressing was also described to be waterproof, protective and cosmetically acceptable. They further stated that "the circular and thin formulary form and skin color tapes not only cover the redness to improve the cosmetic outcome, but also allow ventilation, which leads to no increase in the level of inflammation."

Now you may ask: Pimples are infected with bacteria, right? Won't it be bad to cover them with an occlusive dressing? Won't that make the infection worse? I searched for more articles to answer those questions. Although these do not specifically talk about hydrocolloid dressings and acne, they do talk about the use of hydrocolloids in pressure ulcers and other chronic wounds:
  • "Varghese et al. attempted to compare the local environment of chronic wounds under hydrocolloid versus film dressings who examined fluid collected from 9 patients with 14 chronic full-thickness ulcers dressed with Duoderm or Opsite® (Smith and Nephew), a transparent film dressing. They found that pO2 was very low beneath both dressings despite the relative permeability of film dressings. They also found that pH of the wound fluid beneath the hydrocolloid was more acidic, postulated to be due to the chemical nature of the hydrocolloid base. It was thought that this acidic fluid has an inhibiting effect on the growth of some bacteria, and reduces the histotoxicity of ammonia produced by enzymatic breakdown." (Sood, Granick & Tomaselli, 2014)
  • "Added to this, the hydrocolloids maintain an acid pH in the wound bed, which impedes bacterial growth, as well as sustaining an ideal local temperature. They promote angiogenesis, increase the number of fibroblasts of the dermis, encourage the production of granulation tissue and increase the quantity of synthesized collagen, all of which are essential in the healing process." (Pott, Meier, Stoco, Crozeta & Ribas, 2014)
Hydrocolloid dressings are recommended for wounds with low to moderate exudates. Pimples don't have a whole lot of exudates and so these hydrocolloid patches are able to absorb the exudates quickly without the need to keep them in place for a long time. Once the exudates are absorbed, the swelling, pain and redness of the lesion go away and the pimple is on its way to complete healing. I usually have the patches in place for about 8 to 12 hours before I remove them.

These patches are not meant to replace a good skincare regimen and topical/oral medications. I believe there are no substitutes for that. These patches were designed as spot treatments to help speed up the process of healing of acne. If you are suffering from acne, I believe it is best to see a dermatologist so that you will be properly examined and for you to get a treatment regimen made specifically for your needs. We want to minimize the negative effects of acne like scarring and we can do that by initiating early treatment :)

Prognosis: I love these hydrocolloid acne patches so much! I will definitely continue using and repurchasing them! They are cut and shaped perfectly for pimples. They are a good emergency pimple remedy because they quickly tame down raging pimples so it's nice to have some inside your drawer or medicine kit. ;)

Chao, et. al. (2006) A pilot study on efficacy treatment of acne vulgaris using a new method: results      of a randomized double-blind trial with Acne Dressing. Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 57,       pp. 95-105.

Fletcher, J., Moore, Z., Anderson, I., & Matsuzaki, K. Hydrocolloids and pressure ulcers Made Easy.    Wounds International 2011; 2(4): Available from:

Heenan, A. (1998 April). Frequently Asked Questions: Hydrocolloid Dressing. Retrieved from:    

Sood, A., Granick, M. S., & Tomaselli, N. L. (2014). Wound Dressings and Comparative                        Effectiveness Data. Advances in Wound Care3(8), 511–529. doi:10.1089/wound.2012.0401

Pott, F. S., Meier, M. J., Stocco, J. G. D., Crozeta, K., & Ribas, J. D. (2014). The effectiveness of        hydrocolloid dressings versus other dressings in the healing of pressure ulcers in adults and older      adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis . Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem22(3),      511–520. doi:10.1590/0104-1169.3480.2445

*This post was not sponsored in any way. I bought these patches with my own money and I wrote this review because I wanted to share the goodness that is the 3M Nexcare Acne Patch. I once talked to a plastic surgeon regarding these patches and he was kind of doubtful of the efficacy of a hydrocolloid dressing on acne and because I wasn't armed with any research to back me up, I was unable to give a good discussion on it. That led me to read more about hydrocolloid dressings for acne and luckily I found the study by Chao et. al. which was exactly what I needed. At the time their study was published, it was the first to use and discuss hydrocolloid dressings for acne. I tried searching for other studies involving hydrocolloid dressings and acne but unfortunately I was unable to find more.

For any questions or clarifications, feel free to post a comment below. :)

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