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Are Skin Patches the Next Big Wellness Innovation?

Are Skin Patches the Next Big Wellness Innovation?

With a variety of proclaimed benefits including better ingredient absorption compared to pills, skin patches are an emerging wellness trend

Over the last several years, “wellness patches” have grown in popularity, touted for their ability to be more easily and steadily absorbed by the body compared to oral supplements.

Long associated with anti-addiction remedies like nicotine patches, patches have evolved to deliver a variety of proclaimed wellness benefits including skincare, sleep, relaxation and general health. Some estimates value the transdermal patch market at over $8 billion by 2027. 

The Case for Wellness Patches

Worn directly on the skin, transdermal wellness patches are infused with ingredients that enter the bloodstream for effectiveness. While pills must go through the digestive system before they can provide the full impact of medicine, vitamins, or minerals, patches can provide a more steady absorption of a substance, proponents argue.

The Good Patch is one company aiming to bring plant-powered wearable wellness to users. The company makes more than 15 patches, each offering different ingredients and benefits. For example, iB12 Awake patches have 15mg of caffeine per patch, along with Green Tea Extract and Vitamin B12. The patch releases those ingredients over an 8–12-hour period.

credit: The Good Patch

The Patch Brand, which is sold in some major retailers like Kohl’s, Walgreens and Publix, offers different patches for various health needs along with a “Daily Patch” which includes Vitamin C, Zinc Citrate, and Vitamin D3. 

Skincare patches are said to be able to remedy a variety of issues, such as acne, wrinkles and dryness. Patches with retinol, salicylic acid, or hyaluronic acid have gone viral on TikTok. One of the most popular offerings are pimple patches, which remove excess oil and bacteria from blemishes, reducing the appearance of acne quickly. Another is the wrinkle patch, an adhesive paper worn overnight to keep your muscles in place to lessen or prevent wrinkles. 

What Does the Science Say?

Some patches claim efficacy with no active ingredients. Super Patch claims that its technology has uniquely arranged ridges that work like a QR code with one’s skin, transmitting unique signals that interact with the nervous system. Super Patch has offerings for Sleep, Focus, Pain, Balance and Mobility and Rehab/Recovery. 

“Pain management is a neurological function,” Super Patch founder Jay Dhaliwal told Athletech News. “We spent the last almost 15 years understanding the neural programs that control different physiological functions, and pain was one of them. We deduced the exact program that regulates our pain mechanism and how we deal with pain. It is a combination of different parts of the brain communicating through brain waves. We realized that if you can calm that or reset that you can help people manage their pain better.”  

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However, there remain some questions about the medical efficacy of wellness patches.

“There is not a substantive scientific basis to establish these patches as effective for what they’re advertised for. Additionally, (wellness patches) are not confirmed by the FDA to be effective. This means there is no regulative basis that differentiates these products as truly effective,” Dr. Thomas Pontinen, a physician and co-founder of MAPS Centers for Pain Control, the largest interventional pain management center in the Chicago area, told ATN.

Dr. Pontinen noted that such products could be driven by a powerful placebo effect, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Pain is not only a physical response, but an emotional response, so if someone is getting help from a product, then it’s usually best for them to continue using it, even if it lacks a solid scientific basis,” he said.

As the supplement industry continues to explode, wellness patch markers are hoping to convert consumers who’ve become frustrated by inadequate remedies. It remains to be, however, whether patches are here to stay or merely a short-term trend.

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