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Reviews > Health & Safety > First Aid Kits > Spenco 2nd Skin dressing > Owner Review by Yi-Jien Hwa

In memory of our brave spirited friend, may the long winding trails continue for you.

July 17, 2008



NAME: Yi-Jien Hwa
EMAIL: yijien AT alumni DOT bates DOT edu
AGE: 27
LOCATION: Wilmore, Kentucky
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 160 lb (72.60 kg)

I backpacked a few times in high school and college, but only got "into it" (ok, I'm a little obsessed) last year. I'm a busy seminary student, but whenever we can, my wife and I hike in Kentucky's Red River Gorge. Thus far, we've hiked Isle Royale, Hawaii's Big Island, the Smokey Mountains and are planning several trips this summer. Our combined summer base weight is about 45 lbs (22-25 kg), which we are trying to cut.


Manufacturer: Spenco Medical Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: Spenco
MSRP: US$ 9.99
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 1.6 oz (45 g)


I was alerted about this product through a popular backpacking book. The author extolled 2nd Skin as a miracle product; and since I love a good miracle, it soon made its way from the catalog to my mail and into my first aid kit.


The Kit. Hydrogel is on the lower right.

The product itself is primarily a piece of gel--their fancy name for it is "2nd Skin Hydrogel"--which you stick on an offending blister. The kit comes with two 3" x 6.5" sheets (7.6 x 16.5 cm) wrapped between two pieces of plastic. They claim that it is an antiseptic barrier: "A unique effective antiseptic barrier in the structure of 2nd Skin has been shown to protect the dressing against microbes and microbial contamination." However, the product itself is non-sterile, and not suitable for burns or wounds! I'm not sure how a non-sterile product can be an effective antiseptic barrier, but mine not to reason how or why I guess.

The Dressing Kit also comes with 6 pieces of adhesive knit: five 3" x 1.5" (7.6 x 3.8 cm), and one 3" x 5" (3.8 x 12.7 cm). They come with a plastic backing that one removes when before one sticks them on--like a Band-Aid.


I have been using the Dressing Kit--not the heavy plastic box, but its contents!--for about 200 miles (322 km), and more than a few blisters in the Smokey Mountains and Volcano National Parks, and the Red River Gorge. To cut to the chase: it works! Cut off a piece, carefully take off one side of the plastic, put it on, and take off the other piece. Then, use an adhesive knit, Moleskin/foam or some kind of tape.

The really tricky part is the latter part of the treatment. This is really nothing to do with 2nd Skin, but a problem in general with something sandwiched between a piece of skin that is leaking sweat, and a sock that is constantly rubbing against it, for hours on end. Trying to stick 2nd Skin on with Moleskin didn't generally work too well with my sweaty epidermis. Honestly, I gave the adhesive knits short shrift until working on this review. However, I've since tested them a little recently around the house, and even in the shower, and they seem to work pretty well. I will post a little update on them in a month or two.


The Hydrogel

When I have managed to stick it on well enough that it actually stays, within about 2-3 days, the blisters disappear. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it seems that the Hydrogel sucks out the water (no piercing the blister seems necessary), and pampers the skin well enough that a new layer can grow back. When I put it on, the pain doesn't go away, but it is lessened a little, and the Hydrogel feels cool on my skin.

The Dressing Kit is not cheap, but two sheets of 6.5" x 3" (7.6 x 16.5 cm) will go quite a way, depending on how many blisters one gets. My wife and I have only used a bit less than half a sheet in about 18 nights of hiking. To me, the comfort it brings to that perennial backpacker woe is more than worth the cost.

Finally, a minor complaint is that having carried it around for awhile, the protective sheets seem to have shifted, and this exposes the Hydrogel to contamination (as you can see in the picture above). I think this happened over time, and it didn't come that way, but I wouldn't swear by it.


There are many products out there that are totally hyped up and branded, with a price to match. (Whether they live up to the hype is another matter). And then, there are those products that are totally unhyped, that no one has heard about, but are real gems. For me, 2nd Skin falls into the latter category. It has won a permanent place in my first aid kit. As far as I know, there's really nothing else like it in the market. I've tried several of the other things on the shelf, and none of them seem to do much. It's really nice having the confidence that if I have a blister, 2nds Skin will pretty much take care of it. Honestly, the only thing that really bothers me about 2nd Skin really that it is not as widely known as I think it should be.


- It works! What more could one ask for?


- It's hard to make it stick.
- A little expensive.

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Reviews > Health & Safety > First Aid Kits > Spenco 2nd Skin dressing > Owner Review by Yi-Jien Hwa

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