Friday, November 20, 2015

Tested: Elastoplast SOS Blister bandages

I certainly felt like a heel.

Back to some product reviews, because I have some stuff I really need to tell you about!

When I went wandering in the woods last month, I messed up my feet pretty badly with blisters. They started on the first day - likely as a result of not having my boots tied tightly enough while climbing and descending steep hills - and continued to develop over the course of the 2nd and 3rd days. We're talking about 30-odd kilometers of heel-munching resulting in the wanton destruction of several layers of skin and quarter-sized craters in my poor feet.

Upon arriving at home on Sunday evening, I slapped a couple of Tegaderm + Pad dressings on them with some Polysporin and hoped I wouldn't have to look at them for awhile. Unfortunately, it all came of in the pool on Tuesday, and loosened up the flaps of dead skin. I trimmed what I could and applied more Polysporin and Tegaderm.

My supplies held out through the following weekend while we paddled in Bon Echo, but when we hit the grocery store on Monday I picked up the SOS Blister dressings as I was out of Tegaderm. I'd had some good experiences with hydrocolloid dressings for some of the gouges and road rash I attained last year while yard sale-ing myself and auditioning as a hood ornament, so figured I'd give these a whack. With the Vulture Bait 50k just 5 days away I needed something to sort me out quickly, and I'm here to tell you that I'm impressed!

Plastic clamshell-type box snaps closed securely and is sized for portability.
Just enough packaging to protect the dressings inside the box.

What it is: Hydrocolloid dressings specifically designed to aid in the protection and healing of blisters.

Why you want them: Because blisters really, really suck...especially when they appear right before very long races.

Duration used: 1 week

Price paid/purchased from: $6.99 + tax at the grocery store for 5 "large: for heels" dressings.

Single dressing showing the wax paper on the outside of the dressing.
I was skeptical about the size, but it was large enough to overlap the wounds.

The backing for the sticky side is plastic, with a machine-cut slit down the middle for easy separation and removal.

Manufacturer's description: 

Elastoplast SOS Blister Large

"The Elastoplast SOS Blister bandage immediately relieves the pain and seals the affected area safely against dirt and bacteria. The hydrocolloid technology helps blisters heal faster. Its extra strong adhesion keeps the bandage in place for days.
Ideal for blisters on heels.

The bandage is available in a convenient box with 5 large bandages.

Dermatologically approved
Based on dermatological studies the product is confirmed to be skin friendly, skin compatible and has a good skin tolerability.

Quality assurance
A European product in use test with 8244 pharmacy assistants proves: 99% would recommend the product."

Wax paper removed from outside of dressing.

What rawks: First of all, can I give a shout-out to Elastoplast for some thoughtful packaging? This plastic carrying box is a great design for throwing in a pack, first aid kit or race bag. The waxed paper backing strip on the dressings themselves keep them from abrading each other in the storage container, and the slit cut in the plastic backing for the sticky side of the bandages makes it very easy to separate the halves for removal.

Upon applying the dressings, I won't say that pain relief was immediate, but I was finally able to wear shoes to the office again - even without socks (I'd been that weirdo in flip flops the previous week). I did a couple of short runs while I had the bandages on and felt no pain from the blisters at all.

The adhesive that covers the whole of the wound side of the dressing is some seriously tough stuff! I applied the dressings on Tuesday night after going to the pool (losing the last of the Tegaderm), and figured I'd have to see how they held up to the last run before Vulture Bait on Thursday. To my amazement, not only did they stay put through my shake-out run, but through the entire 50k as well!

5 days and 55km of running later.

The same dressings actually stayed on until I removed them after another swim on Tuesday, 1 week to the day after they were applied. They were actually still adhering fairly well, but the edges had begun to lift and I didn't want them catching on the inside of a shoe and rolling up. 10/10 for durability, though.

The upper edge did come loose a bit during Vulture Bait, hence the sock fuzz.
It actually seemed to re-adhere though, as I totally ceased to notice it during the 2nd loop.

You'd think this amazing adhesive would make them difficult to remove, or that having the adhesive directly against the raw skin of the blister craters would make for a painful removal experience, but neither of these was the case. It may have been the pre-soak in the pool that assisted, but they peeled off easily and there was no discomfort detaching from the wounds.

The best part of all was discovering that whatever voodoo magic they imbued these things with at the factory really works - upon removal, both blisters were sufficiently healed that I no longer needed to have any sort of dressing on them. This was 2.5 weeks after the original date of injury, which may seem like a fairly long healing time but these were particularly nasty wounds that I figured would continue to be a problem right up to Horror Hill (4 weeks later), particularly with running a 50k in between! As it was, I had no call to bandage the blisters for Horror Hill - all that remained of them was a tiny bit of dead skin around the perimeter of the original craters, which were now filled in with new, healthy skin.

Hydrocolloid dressings basically work by sealing the wound away from contamination by outside sources and absorbing the moisture that the blister exudes to form a gel that is kept against the skin. It keeps the injury from drying out and tightening (which would happen very quickly during the brief periods I had them uncovered and was extremely uncomfortable - felt as though the delicate skin could crack at any moment), much like the bubble formed naturally by a blister, or like a scab on a cut or scrape. The tough, flexible plastic exterior of the dressing preserves this bubble of healing over the wound much better than our comparatively fragile skin, and the gel cushions it from abrasion and pressure. This combination allows undisturbed healing to take place, particularly as the bandages are durable enough to remain in place for several days at a time.

Portability, durability, excellent protection and legitimate healing properties? Yeah, I can dig it.

What sucks: They're not free.

What I'd like to see: I honestly can't come up with a single thing that would improve them.

What I'm saying: If you have blisters - especially really nasty ones that you'd like to protect while accelerating healing and basically completely ignoring them - buy these. I know I'll be keeping a box of them in my pack for all future backpacking trips!

For further edification: They're well reviewed on and, and you can read more about hydrocolloid dressings here and here.

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