Most athletes today have heard of Spenco 2nd Skin. It comes in one-inch squares and three-inch circles. Two pieces of thin film cover a soft gel substance – similar to a skin substitute. To use it, peel off the blue film from one side and apply that side over your hot spot or blister. Whether you remove the film from the other side is your choice. For years, 2nd Skin has been the product of choice for patching blisters. Similar competitive products are available – and what I say here applies to all these gel-like blister patches.
Two well-respected foot care experts gave me their thoughts on 2nd Skin:
- Denise Jones, commented, “As for 2nd Skin – well, I still use it if the area is very sore and there are many miles to go in a race like Badwater where the cut-offs are generous. It all depends on the circumstances of the time I can take and how painful the area is. I have mostly gone to your method of putting zinc oxide over the roof of the blister then taping over it to try to keep the roof of the blister in tact after draining the fluid out and putting antibiotic ointment on it.”
- Maddalena Acconci, a fellow foot care specialist from Vancouver, Canada, wrote, “I haven’t had a negative experience with 2nd Skin. As a matter of fact, every time a racer has said to me ‘you saved my race’, I had used it.”
In my opinion, 2nd Skin has its place in foot care, IF one is aware of the downside. First, the positive. 2nd Skin provides protection, cushioning, and a cooling effect to the area. Whether over a hot spot or blister, the patch cushions and protects. Spenco 2nd Skin requires a tape covering to hold it in place. That’s not the problem. If the patch will remain in place for only several hours, I have no objection to 2nd Skin.
There is one problem with 2nd Skin. Anything over a few hours and the skin swells from the moisture in the patch, the water component, of 2nd Skin. It makes the skin damp, often cold to the touch, and leads to maceration. On a long event, 12 hours or longer, especially a multi-day event, when the skin is cool and damp skin from the patch, it is very difficult to apply another patch. It is hard to get anything to adhere to the skin where the 2nd Skin was.
I think 2nd Skin is a good product and it deserves a spot in most runners’ foot care kits. I will use it on occasion – especially for short events up to 50 miles. For longer events or multi-day events, I will use other patching methods. Zombierunner.com offers Spenco 2nd Skin and GlacierGel, both good blister products.