Acne Is Essentially a Wound, so Should We Treat It as Such?

True story: Last week I had a giant cystic pimple on my cheek that wouldn't die, no matter how many spot treatments I tried. For advice, I reached out to skincare extraordinaire Renée Rouleau, who told me not to touch it and just continue with what I was doing. But as each day wore on and the breakout continued to stare me in the face, I threw in the towel and gave it a major squeeze. Of course, this made it even redder and angrier, and it swiftly scabbed over (forgive me, Renée, for I have sinned).

As I watched the area take on new life, I was immediately transported back to my high school days when I relentlessly picked at my skin to the point where I had certified wounds smattered across my pubescent face like fiery constellations. So when Alicia Yoon recently told me that acne lesions are essentially wounds and need to be treated as such, I could relate on a cellular level. But this stands for breakouts that haven't been mangled, too. The definition of a wound is "an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other impact, typically one in which the skin is cut or broken," so in the case of acne, the impact is the inflammation and buildup within the skin.

Eastern countries took note of this many years ago, employing hydrocolloid patches (the same treatment used in medicine to heal wounds and burns) that draw buildup out of the breakout rather than dispense medicine into the area to treat blemishes. And since Western brands tend to mirror Asian beauty practices, several mainstream brands have begun marketing similar patches too, including Peace Out, Clearasil, and Peter Thomas Roth. (Yoon's own brand, Peach & Lily, also sells "spot dots.") Curious if this is the be-all, end-all treatment everyone should be doing, I decided to do a bit of research.