Hiking on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, doctoring my feet (once again) with Moleskin and Duct Tape, a fellow trekker stopped to observe and said: “You have got to be Canadian!  I’ve never seen anyone put duct tape on their bodies like Canadians.”  I felt a small surge of pride.  Yes…I am Canadian, and I can fix any blister problem with moleskin and duct tape.  I optimistically put my boots back on and limped down the trail. Several days (and 6 new blisters) later, after having hacked apart my boots with my Leatherman and repairing them with…you guessed it…duct tape, and running right out of moleskin due to repeated application, someone saved my feet with this little piece of magic.

I somewhat ashamedly retracted my previous boast, returned my sponsorship cheques and became the poster child for Band-aid Blister Cushions”. Now, several years older and many blisters later, I’m once again switching allegiance.  Blister Cushions and their squishy cousins do work wonders on friction points between calf and top-of-boot.  And I’ve seen some success on toes and around ankle bones, alas my heart now belongs to Mepitel. Designed for burns, lacerations, open wounds and blisters, Mepitel is a thin, semi-transparent matrix, coated with silicone.  It stretches and forms beautifully to your curvaceous heel (or other tricky body parts), does not stick to a wound and allows moisture to pass away from the skin, promoting healing.  And it kicks ass on blisters!

On a recent backpacking trip, I tried both a 3-M blister product and Mepitel on a persistent hot-spot and my traveling companion likewise used both on a giant blister.  We both found we couldn’t get the blister dressing to stay put on the lateral sides of our respective heels, but with Mepitel in place covered by a solid taping job, we were both pain free for the rest of the trip.  I left my dressing in place for 3 days, just adding tape as necessary after being in the water.  My friend changed hers daily in order to inspect the blister’s progress.  She found that though the blister was growing each day, she remained pain free!

Mepitel Blister Care, Blister Care, Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine, Wilderness First Aid

Subject’s heel with Mepitel in place over blister.

First Aid, Blister Care, Wilderness First Aid, Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine

Tape job! This is standard white athletic tape, which we’ve found through our exhaustive personal research stays in place better than duct tape or transpore. A good tape job is essential though. Use anchors around the arch of the foot on dry skin to start. Then tape overlapping strips around the back of the heel and around the arch. (much like taping an unstable ankle, and also on dry skin)

Blister care, Mepital, Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine, Wilderness First Aid

The finished taping: tidy and most importantly, pain free!

Blister Care, First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Rocky Mountain Adventure Medicine

The blister at the end of day 4. It’s a big, fluid filled beauty, but even with something that protrudes this much from the foot, Mepitel does the trick.

At around $5 per 5X7.5 cm sheet (2×3 inch), it’s expensive, but you can cut it to size and if you end up using half a dressing for 3 days, as I did, that’s really worth it! You can purchase Mepitel online from a variety of sources, including amazon.com and for the cheapest I found, check here. I wish you all pain-free heels this ski season!  Take that, blisters!