I have a bad blister on my foot that’s taking a long time to heal. Technically, it’s not a blister but a wound, because the skin covering it was ripped off and the deeper tissue exposed. To make matters worse, I continued to hike and walk quite a lot with it, covering it up with gauze and Leukotape, despite considerable pain and bleeding. Yes, I am an idiot. But I need to be reminded of that every couple of years.
Fast forward to the solution. Band-Aid Hydro-Seal Blister Bandages. These are hydrocolloid gel bandages which are the state-of-the-art for modern wound care. They’re very sticky and waterproof, so you leave them on until they fall off, usually after 3-5 days. You can even shower with them on or do a stream crossing. They’re designed to be used by themselves, without the use of extra antibiotic ointment. They work by completely sealing off the wound area from germs and letting your body’s immune system heal the wound.
The aim of these hydrocolloid gel bandages is to provide a moist healing environment while using the body’s own moisture and enzymes to keep the wound hydrated for proper wound healing. They don’t adhere to the wound, only the surrounding skin, thereby keeping healed skin intact. They also stay on for days at a time, minimizing any disruption to the healing tissue, caused by frequent bandage changes.
While blister prevention (see Leukotape) is always preferable, these Hydro-Seal Bandages are the ticket for SHTF wound care after the damage has been done. They’re available in multiple sizes and intended for use as-is, without any additional shaping or trimming. Each bandage is sterile and latex-free, making them good for people who have a latex allergy. They’re also surprisingly inexpensive and you might even consider carry one or two in your first-aid kit.
- Heel sized blister bandages
- Toe-sized blister bandages
- Corn cushion bandages
- Finger-sized wound bandages
- Medium-sized, general purpose wound bandages
- Large-sized wound bandages
To use a Hydro-Seal Bandage, clean and dry the affected area of your foot (or body part). It is important that they wound be uninfected and sterile before covering it with the bandage because it forms an air-tight seal over it. Apply the bandage to the blister or wound, being careful to keep the adhesive edges off the afflicted area. Rub your thumb around the edges to seal ensure a tight waterproof seal. After 24 hours, the center of the bandage will plump up a bit, which indicates that the healing process has begun.
You can use a Band-Aid Hydro-Seal Bandage on popped or un-popped blisters. If a blister is painful, I usually pop a blister with a sterile needle and drain the fluid inside, being careful to keep the skin on top intact because it prevents infection and accelerates healing. The fluid build-up is often the source of the pain and removing it can make you more comfortable, especially if you plan to keep walking on it. You can also cushion the bandages more by building a moleskin ring around them, but you need to be careful to keep the moleskin off the bandage to prevent tearing it off the wound when you remove it.
The exterior of these Hydro-Seal Bandages is very slick, which cuts down on friction inside your shoes if you plan to keep walking with your blister. The marvelous thing about these bandages is you can continue hiking, even if you have a bad blister, after applying them. The gel in the bandage absorbs the fluid that leaks out of a wound or blister (called “exudate”) as it heals. This keeps the wound moist and pliable, which helps to dramatically reduce the pain of walking.
Band-Aid Hydro-Seal Bandages are not recommended for use over stitches, burns, fragile skin, deep puncture wounds, or infected area. Diabetics and people with poor circulation should also consult a medical authority before use. But for hiking and backpacking blisters, I have to say that these blister bandages are the BEES KNEES! Highly recommended.
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Would you recommend putting leukotape over the band aid to further aid in keeping it place and to further aid in reducing irritation to the blister?
There’s no need. The bandaid is insanely sticky. In fact, leukotape would be counter-productive because it does not have a slick outer surface and actually increases friction. These bandages work so well because they are slippery on the outside.
Thanks for the reply. I found some at Wally World last night and bought a box to add to my kit.
In regards to covering these sometime it is necessary. For instance most of the ones I get on my hand get peeled off prematurely from the bumps and grinds of the day. Sticking hands in pockets is a huge culprit. One thing to prevent that is if the bandage wraps all the way around a finger make sure you connect them on the other side. This is pretty much a permanent bond that helps keep it from coming off too soon. If one does start peeling the best thing to do is trim the peeled edges off. That helps the peeling spread tremendously. But if you anticipate the bandage being bumped a lot you can put medical tape on the edges. They take all the abuse and can be changed daily.
One thing I will say is of your edges get lifted for some reason you can cut those pieces off to prevent the peeling from spreading. You can also prevent it from happening by covering the edges in medical tape of some sort. In certain areas they will start to peel if roughed up on the edges. This helps extend the life of a single bandage instead of changing it.
These saved my PCT thru-hike! The best part is it keeps the area clean, allowing it to heal w/o the risk of infection. They are particularly useful on blisters on the ball of the foot, they stick like crazy.
More for the first aid kit.
I always use Compeed blister pads. Very similar you think?
Very similar, but these Band-Aids Blister Bandages are much less expensive over here in the states.
These were not on my radar screen. Good to know about. Thanks for mentioning!
Great review and tips ? I bought Hydro-Seal bandages last year while searching for your reccomended Leukotape. Love them.
Part of my standard first aid kit, too.
These are great! I used to get such wounds from blisters a lot, but that was before I discovered these (or maybe before J&J started making them). Fortunately, since I switched from boots to trail runners, I’ve had nary a blister. I do carry several of these just in case, though!
I use these all the time! The only issue I run into is that they will stick to my socks if I hike with them on. I apply KT tape over top to avoid this from happening.
They sound like Compeed which has been available for years in Europe. I have ordered the Compeed blister pads off of Amazon and they ship from the UK. As mentioned already, you may need to apply tape over them because the adhesive will stick to your socks and it will create a problem when you change your socks. I have used leukotape for this. I’ve always wondered why Compeed isn’t available in the US.
Wow, these sound great! I rarely get a blister, but definitely going to add a couple to my kit just in case. Freaking love your site and always learn something new, Phillip. ?
They are lifesavers. I rarely get blisters too, but when I do…
Have used these for years. They are wonderful and I have not found anything close to this. Highly recommend. Carry them all the time . Great review
I just added the Band-Aid Hydro-Seal Bandages to my Keep shopping list. I need these in my pack.
Thanks for another great heads-up! Your website is the best source for reviews and new products for hikers, backpackers and outdoors people.
Thanks Marko! It’s all based on my experiences. I try to keep it real, you know.
I’ve been using Band-aid Blister (then called Compeed) since at least 2002, maybe earlier. Great stuff, I always have some in my first aid kit.
The provided link is for heel blisters – there’s a couple of other links, including one for the variety pack.
I stand corrected, the above comment only applies to the “Compare 1 Prices” link on this page. Phill has a list of links to all the others above that.
Thanks for the article.
BUT… I have found that since I began using SOLE heat mouldable insoles (from REI) I have had NO foot sole blisters. This is even during extended all-downhill or all-uphill days such as when I did the Grand Canyon, North Rim to South Rim in Nov. 2017.
I still get side of the toe blisters sometimes, depending on terrain.
I just finish a 6 day trip and put these things on all my blisters. To those who asked … NO need for extra security to keep these puppies on! Just don’t be tempted to mess with them. You can use these things on blisters, small cut … SO RECOMMEND!!
I will be testing these out in the coming weeks on the Pinhoti Trail… I hope they work….
Nope I left it on the Shelf… Reason… Price…. Nearly $1.00 each…. What I have been using works and has for 20 years Duct tape and a pad…. 25 cents about….
They work every place on body. External hearing aids causing pain then hat for hiking made open sores. Placed on areas that rub and miracle . Both healed and prevention. Can cut to fit inside outer ear and stay in place for days
That works for blisters specifically and prevents them. But not good foe after you already have a blister. Plus these can be used for many more wounds other than blisters. The piece of mind you get for that $1 bandage is well worth it.
I agree these are great! Though we had the issue of one getting rubbed off from sock friction, which led to the dead skin on top of blister coming off. Ouch! Any idea how to successfully remove these if they are not sticking well? Cant; imagine they’ll always stick for the life of the healing blister.
I’ve never had one rub off due to sock friction. I’m amazed that you have. Once they’re on, they stay on.
I’ve had one come off and stick to a sock before. It’s been at least 3 years, and it’s still partially embedded in said sock. Wasn’t a cheap sock either.
Buy some Medical adhesive solvent.
So a fun fact I learned about these one time after using one over a blood blister on my thumb. They bond instantly and permanently to the adhesive on gaff tape.
If you have a blister on the bottom of your feet don’t bother buying this garbage because it just falls off and doesn’t work.
You must be doing something wrong. These bandages stay on my feet for three days or more at a time and through multiple showers. I swear by them.
I’m worried that they stick too well. I put one on and it started to fall off and then as I pulled it off it was sticking to the wound and made it bleed even more. Any suggestions about how to remove them after several days?
They just fall off after a few days. If you put one on, it’s going to stay on. The moisture in your wound is the moisture that activates the bond. If you try pulling off the bandage, you’ll pull off the scab.
Instructions say do not pull off; rather gently work them side to side. I imagine also saline might help.
Hi there. Tried these bandages too. Mine were on for 7 days, and hadn’t fallen off. Does that mean it still needs to be on there to heal?
One got pulled off after getting stuck to a sock. Unsure whether to reapply a new one, to heal.
Just let it fall off naturally. Why wouldn’t you put a second one on?
Blister popped on ankle. Put hydro seal blister heel on. was the right size. Still on 7th day but still has a little pain on site. Is that normal. How much longer before decides to fall off and is the pain alright to still have. Thank you in advance
Just ignore it. The foot will fall off eventually when it’s rotten through. (Ask a doctor if you have concerns)
I have an infected ingrown toenail is there any reason why not to put it on an infected area?
I would treat the infection. No point in covering it up for three or four days before that if you need to access it for a cure.
This Product effectively works!
Give the body enough time to repair the skin damage that’s underneath the blister. When the blister is white and ready to come off, you can pull back the old skin, and then you would notice that the new skin has re-grown underneath the old skin on your foot.
I placed hydroseal bandage on my heel blister 3 days ago. It started to heal and it doesn’t hurt.
I put my climbing shoe yesterday and some of the gel came out. I decided to stop climbing and maybe wait a few more days. Would you recommend removing the old bandage and place a new one? I don’t want to tear any more skin.
Just let the old bandage fall off naturally.