Are Acne Pads Really Effective?

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Are Acne Pads Really Effective?

Treating acne can often involve a combination of different acne treatments, from creams and cleansers to clinical procedures. However, having too many options to choose from can be confusing. You need to consider certain factors like their ingredients, your skin type, and how mild or severe your acne is.

With acne pads, keeping your skin clear has gotten easier. Let’s dive into what acne pads are and how they can best be used to treat breakouts so you can have healthier and clearer skin. 

What are Acne Pads?

Acne pads are a surprisingly convenient and portable way to deal with acne. These are usually cloth or cotton pads that are soaked in an acne treatment formula and are used after cleansing the face either in the morning or at night. 

Their popularity stems from their convenience and ease of use. They’re readily available over the counter and provide you with a mess-free alternative to creams, lotions, and gels. After wiping them on your face, simply dispose of them in the trash.

Acne pads have been around since the early 2000s and typically used one type of acid. Some variants also incorporated alcohol into the solution, which may dry out the skin or even worsen acne. When the skin dries out, your body triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil to compensate for the loss. This excessive production of sebum can cause acne. 

Today’s acne pads are a far cry from their predecessors. They now incorporate different ingredients aside from salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). Some come with ingredients like aloe for sensitive skin, while others are formulated not only for combatting acne, but also for evening out your skin tone and texture. 

One of the most common ingredients found in acne pads is salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that’s used to treat mild acne and prevent future breakouts. 

Salicylic Acid Pads

These salicylic acid pads come in a variety of percentages that largely depend on the product’s intensity. Pads usually contain 0.5 to five percent of salicylic acid and are intended for use from one to three times a day. Higher concentrations of this acid are used as a peeling agent to treat acne and acne scars, along with other skin issues like age spots and melasma. 

The salicylic acid pulls double duty by exfoliating the skin, thereby unclogging the pores, reducing inflammation, and helping control oil production.  

When using salicylic acid pads, it’s important to wash the affected area first using a mild cleanser. After patting the skin dry, gently wipe the pad onto your skin.

Pads can be used from one to three times a day. Ask your dermatologist about the recommended frequency of its use. 

Clindamycin Pads

Another treatment for acne that you could look into is topical clindamycin. It is an antibiotic that reduces acne-causing bacteria, thereby reducing acne inflammation. It can be used to treat a wide range of acne, from mild to severe.

Clindamycin alone won’t be enough to treat acne and it’s usually used with a combination of other acne treatment medications.

Topical clindamycin comes in many forms such as medicated clindamycin pads. These pads or pledgets are easy to use and can be applied once or twice daily, depending on your dermatologist’s recommendations. 

When using clindamycin products, observe the following best practices to get results:


  • Wash your face prior to use
  • Always start with a clean face. For a routine that incorporates clindamycin in any form, it’s best to wait got at least 30 minutes prior to application. This helps avoid irritation that may occur when the skin is freshly washed.


  • Apply the product over the entire area
  • Unlike other types of treatment where spot application is recommended, with clindamycin, make sure you’re applying the product over the entire area with acne.  


  • Be consistent with its application
  • Try to stick to a routine when using clindamycin. As much as possible, avoid skipping application or having an inconsistent schedule. If you apply it in the morning, it’s best to stick with that time every day.

    Who Should Use Acne Pads?

    Practically anyone who wants a convenient way to combat acne can use acne pads. These, however, work best for individuals who have mild to moderate acne. 

    Keep in mind that before using any topical products, you need to talk to your dermatologist or doctor first. It’s important to have your healthcare professionals conduct a proper assessment of your acne condition and skin type. They should also be informed of any medications that you’re taking or any medical conditions that you might have so they can recommend the treatment that’s best for you. 

    Additional Precautions

    Avoid using these products on raw or irritated skin and always wash your hands after every application. 

    While it may be tempting to use a lot of acne pads more often in the hopes of clearing up acne faster, avoid using copious amounts of these products or going against your doctor’s recommendations. Doing so may increase the risk of side effects.

    How Fast Do They Work?

    Using alpha-, beta-, or a combination of acids several times a week can have numerous benefits for the skin. 

    Salicylic acid, in particular, can take several weeks before you can see its effects. If you aren’t seeing any results after six weeks of use, consult with your dermatologist. Prior to actual use for the entire face, your dermatologist may suggest that you do a patch test for two to three days to check if your skin has any reaction to this component.

    For clindamycin pads, results may vary depending on the treatment combination that it’s used with. In the case of topical 1 percent clindamycin, it may take up to eight weeks before you can see results. For a treatment using a combination of clindamycin and tretinoin, it may take up to 12 weeks for the results to be evident.

    In order to better control acne, this medication needs to be used to full treatment term. Prematurely stopping its use can cause your symptoms to return. 

    Side Effects and Interactions

    Side effects may vary, depending on the type of acne pad you’re using. 

    Potential Side Effects of Salicylic Acid Pads

    For salicylic acid pads, you may experience skin irritation during the primary stages of use. Some of its potential side effects include:

    • Skin irritation
    • Dry skin
    • Itching
    • Stinging or tingling sensation

    In extremely rare cases, some individuals may experience bad side effects such as signs of an allergic reaction (blistered skin, rashes, tightness in the chest), difficulty breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. 

    Prior to using any product with salicylic acid, it is imperative to consult with your doctor first and discuss considerations such as allergies you might have with this component or with other topical products or medications that you’re currently taking that may not interact well with salicylic acid. 

    Other medicines for acne treatment may also interact with this component. Inform your doctor if you’re taking non-prescription drugs or any herbal or dietary supplements. Also inform them if you smoke or drink alcohol. 

    Inform your doctor if you have any preexisting medical conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.

    Potential Side Effects of Clindamycin Pads

    Clindamycin pads can have potential side effects such as skin dryness, flakiness, redness, itching, or oiliness. A burning or stinging sensation is also possible. But clindamycin itself usually only has minimal side effects.

    However, in rare cases it is possible to experience an allergic reaction, like itching or swelling, to this component. Moreover, it is also possible to develop antibiotic resistance to topical clindamycin. 

    Your dermatologist’s directions for topical use should be closely followed as this medication can dry out or irritate your skin when used too often.

    Prior to using this treatment, let your healthcare provider know if you have any medical conditions such as stomach problems or kidney or liver disease. Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Other acne treatment products like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide may interact with this clindamycin. Medicated products such as makeup or soaps can also interact with this component, along with any medications (prescription and non-prescription) that you may be taking.

    Which Acne Pads are the Most Effective?

    There is no one answer to this question as the products you use will depend on several factors, like your skin type and the severity of your acne.

    When choosing an over-the-counter acne treatment such as acne pads, you should:


  • Do prior research and check the options available
  • Research on the types of over the counter (OTC) products that are commonly used for acne treatment. Understanding the options available can help you narrow down your choices, making it easier for you to find a product that’s most effective for your skin.

    OTC acne treatment products can usually be classified into three groups: cleansers, applied solutions, and leave-on treatments. 

    Unlike conventional cleansers, these acne treatment cleansers contain ingredients that combat acne. Toners and astringents are typically applied to the face using a cotton ball or a cotton pad. One such example is the acne pads, which come with a pre-measured solution on a pledget. Leave-on treatments, as the name suggests, are meant to be left on the skin for a longer period. These can come in the form of lotions, creams, or ointments.


  • Find a type that works for your skin type
  • If you have oily skin, you can go for acne pads, foaming cleansers, or lotions. Individuals with normal to dry skin can use products like alcohol-free toners and creams. 


  • Check the label
  • Take the time to read the label on OTC products. How a certain product works will depend on its active ingredients. Some products relive inflammation while others work as exfoliants.

    Common active ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids. Understand how each component works and find out what possible side effects each of them may have. 


  • Determine the strength you need
  • Different products come with different strengths. Keep in mind that immediately going for the strongest option might not always be the best for you.

    Start by using products with lower strength. Over several weeks, gradually increase the product strength. Going slow will help your skin adjust to the new products that you’re introducing.

    When it comes to acne treatment products, you may need to experiment to find out which ones work for you. To complement your treatments, observe proper skin care routine such as washing your face twice a day and using gentle and non-comedogenic skincare products.


    Like any other treatment, it’s always best to check with your doctor or dermatologist first before using acne pads. Always follow their suggestions for use and be patient with the results. These do take some before you can see the full effects but it will be worth the wait once you start seeing your acne clear up.

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