The Solution to Preventing Painful Blisters Costs Less Than a Dollar

Because that horrible feeling of a Band-Aid loose in your sock just adds insult to injury.

Let's be real: Blisters are the worst. Going on a hike, running a marathon, or doing anything remotely long-distance can be hard on your feet, and friction is one of the undeniable truths of life. No shoe is going to save you from blisters, we don't care how expensive it is. But there is something that can prevent the painful skin condition, and it costs less than a buck.

Turns out surgical paper tape, which can be found in any pharmacy, is great for keeping blisters at bay. In an April 2016 study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that using the cheap tape can reduce the chance of getting a blister by 40 percent.

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These results didn't come from your average research lab. Au contraire: the data were collected from some pretty incredible participants during a pretty incredible event: 128 runners, who used the paper tape during a 7-day, 155-mile, six-stage ultramarathon through deserts around the globe. So if it helped someone run through the Gobi desert, we're feeling pretty OK about using it on our next neighborhood jog. The numbers: 98 of the 128 runners didn't have any blisters under the tape, but when it came to untaped areas, 81 of the 128 participants couldn't escape the wrath of the blister. Sad.

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"The paper tape itself is very thin and it's very smooth. We theorized that because it's so smooth, it dec[r]eases friction, rubbing, and shear stress on those sensitive areas just underneath the tape," lead study author Grant Lipman, MD, clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Stanford University, told NPR. "It's that shear stress within the cell layers that causes separation of the cells and blister formation."

Even better, the tape isn't super adhesive, so it won't rip off the skin (or, should the worst happen, a blister) when it's removed. Yep, we're definitely gonna be testing this tape's ability to withstand long days of running around in heels at the office.

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