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Foot Blisters - Preventing & Healing Skin Blisters

Blisters - Preventing & Treating Blisters Blisters are the number one foot ailment in Hiking and they can turn the greatest hike into the most painful one. Blisters can be avoided by proper Foot Training, having the correct Hiking Boots and Hiking Socks, and by early detection of possible problems. In this section, know the causes of Blisters and how to prevent Blisters, and how to treat them.

What causes Foot Blisters?
  • Heat: is the number one reason for getting Blisters. The heat responsible for causing Blisters is mostly caused by the friction between your skin and the inner of your boot. Sand and gravel in your boot can increase friction which is why they also cause Blisters.
  • Moisture: moist or wet feet from sweat or water are more susceptible to Blisters as moisture softens your skin.
How to Prevent Foot Blisters

Preventing Blisters boils down to countering the factors that cause them. In general, keeping your feet cool, dry, and free of sand will

do the trick. Here are some tips on how to prevent Blisters:
  • First of all, select Hiking Boots with good fit that do not chafe your feet or have painful pressure points. Choose watertight but breathable boots that give the proper ventilation that will get rid of excess moisture. Look for fully gusseted tongs that keep sand and gravel outside of your boots. For more information on choosing correct Hiking Boots, read our section on Buying Hiking Boots.
  • Give your feet ample rest. If you feel that your feet might be moist or overheated, it might be wise to make some alterations to your Hiking Rhythm and take a longer rest where you take off your boots and socks. If you do so, you might want to change socks and dry the ones you had on. Having two pairs of socks used alternately is always a good idea to prevent Blisters.
  • If you decide to cool your feet in a stream or pool then make sure to dry them off well before you put on your socks and boots.
  • When conditions allow it, take off your boots and socks and walk with hiking sandals.
Early Treatment of Itchy Foot Blisters

Blisters develop over a period of time and often you can already feel one coming up. Early detection and treatment is the key to preventing full grown Blisters. If you feel a sore place on your foot or irritation, do the following:
  • Take off your boots and hiking socks immediately and remove any sand or gravel from your feet.
  • Let your feet dry and cool down.
  • Cover the sore area with surgical tape, band-aid, or even better special Blister moleskin. Moleskins are artificial skin that you can cut to shape and stick to your own skin. Moleskin can be purchased in most drugstores in a variety of brands and features.
  • Remove the moleskin once you stop hiking and let the skin recover during the night. The next morning, you can judge for yourself to apply a new cover or not. In general, take precautions and apply moleskin even if the area is only moderately irritated.
On Healing Foot Blisters
  • If the Blisters are at the surface and filled with fluid, you should take a sterilized needle and pierce the skin blisters. Pierce from the side close to the base of the Blister and let all the liquid flow out. If the affected skin is still intact then do not remove it. Instead, cover the drained Blister with moleskin. If the affected area is ruptured then carefully cut it away and clean the underlying new skin with rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic. If you have the time, you should allow the new skin to harden in the open air. If you need to move on again, apply moleskin and use gauze to keep the moleskin from directly contacting the tender new skin. Once the new skin has hardened a bit, you can apply benzoin or rubbing alcohol to further toughen up the new skin. Keep the new skin clean and sterilize it to prevent infection.
  • If the Blisters on Foot are buried deep in your skin and does not hold a lot of liquid then do not try to puncture them. Instead, just cover them with moleskin.

These are the basic things you need to know about Blisters. It is essential that you have adequate First Aid knowledge and training if you are engaged in Outdoor Activities such as Hiking.

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Article Comments
Wednesday 9th April 2008 at 4:14:25 PM  

great article!
The one thing to remember is to cut a circle out of the moleskin the size of your blister and this will help keep your boots or shoes from rubbing against the blister!!

Monday 9th February 2009 at 11:57:08 PM  

I learned a while back in the US ARMY- To avoid blisters put on a pair of nylon socks (yes guys the kind the women use). Generally, ankle nylons work fine and really help out by lowering the friction on long, extended, heavy pack hauling marches.

Tuesday 10th February 2009 at 10:46:26 AM  

Note for above.. Nylons go under your socks!! still need the normal wicking socks over them!

Saturday 4th July 2009 at 9:41:28 AM  

Don't lance a blister until you're home, if at all possible, to prevent infection from developing at the blister site. Preserve skin integrity using a molefoam "donut" equal to the height of the blister swelling, and cover that donut with moleskin, using a little square of nonadhesive gauze over the donut hole to prevent the moleskin from tearing off the blister's protective skin cover. The fluid inside is reducing friction at the blister site, and the skin covering it is keeping bacteria out.

Tuesday 6th October 2009 at 1:16:27 PM  

Good Info
There is something relatively new in blister prevention is call a friction management patch that fits inside your boot to lessen the rubbing

Monday 19th October 2009 at 3:34:35 AM  

Ive recently tried a product that I now LOVE - its marino wool loaded with lanolin and to me that is just great for my blisters ... or it would be for the blisters but since using it I no longer have blisters at all regardless of the length of time walking. check it out they have no problems with shipping overseas ...www.trampersfriend.co.nz

Thursday 2nd December 2010 at 12:42:38 AM  

I''ve been using GROMKEY''s fail-safe double socks tip for years (can''t remember where I learned about it). Have hot sweaty tender skinned feet that are VERY prone to blisters.

Had to deal with two large ones on the balls of my feet in the past month. Used therapeutic essential oils to ease pain, help with fluid absorption, and to prevent infection. Wrote an article as a self-help first aid resource for others. You may read it here: http://www.essentialoilsforhealing.com/weblog/?p=1718

Thursday 5th May 2011 at 11:35:04 AM  

Leukotape is the BEST thing for hiking blisters. We''ve tried a million configurations Check it out, it will change your life. Put it on a hot spot, no blister. Put it over a small blister dressing and it won''t move for up to ten days of hiking/backpacking. Happy hiking!

Tuesday 7th February 2012 at 3:06:23 AM  

i have had blisters on both ankles i have found out that the second time round only put betadine on the wound.No bandage blister has heeled

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