I just should have tucked them into my hospital bag!!
Baby number 1 - cracked, bleeding nipples for more than two months
Baby number 2 - same problem. I threw myself on the mercy of the lactation consultant at the hospital. She had gotten these as a sample, but never used them. I started to heal soon after and the problems never returned.
Baby number 3 - bought myself a set (one package gives you two pairs of pads), but I left them at home. What was I thinking? At the hospital they gave me Soothies immediately, but I still was sore and bleeding. I got scared when the baby started urping blood (mixed with milk). That was when I remembered the Hydrogel pads I had already purchased. The scabs were gone within 24 hours (and the baby stopped throwing up blood bits). I ended up needing to replace one of the pads after about 4 days on the side that was more injured, but was completely healed in 10 days.
I was never able to store these in the refrigerator like some of the other suggestions because I was ALWAYS WEARING THEM! Even with 24 hours/day wearing with the occasional rinse off, they last for 4-6 days (unlike Soothies which are not reusable). I was told they use similar hydrogel dressings for burn victims.