What causes blisters?
Blisters are caused by friction. Poorly fitting shoes or damp skin increases friction so it is worth trying to address those issues if you are prone to blisters. Apart from being painful, blisters can change the way you walk or run, which could lead to more serious knee or hip injuries.
Is it your shoes?
Shoes that are too narrow can cause blisters on the big toe and the little toe. If you can’t wiggle your toes in your shoes then the toe box could be too shallow, potentially leading to blisters on the tops of your toes. Shoes that are too big can cause blisters on the tips of your toes.
How can you ensure your shoes are well-fitting?
When trying on shoes take any orthotic insoles and socks you’ll be wearing in them to try on together. It’s also a good idea to get your shoes fitted later in the day as feet tend to swell during the day. Also make sure your insoles and socks are in good condition as these can cause problems if worn out.
How can you protect your feet in the shoes?
Check inside the shoes in case a rough area is chafing and causing the blister. Moleskin is an inexpensive way to protect your feet against these rough patches. Damp skin is more vulnerable to blisters. Socks made from synthetic materials such as polypropylene can wick moisture away from your feet more effectively than wool or cotton socks. Layering socks can help reduce friction. If your sock has a seam then wearing it inside out can help. If you are planning on a long walk or run it may be useful to carry an extra pair of socks, so you can change if your socks get damp.
How do you prepare for a big event like a walking holiday or triathalon?
If your feet are prone to blistering using anti-chafing lubricants available from your local pharmacy could help. A cheap version is petroleum jelly, though some people find it clogs up their socks. This should be reapplied after around 10 miles. In preparation for a big event you could try massaging your feet with lanolin every night for about a month leading up to the event. Lanolin has the advantage of not creating heat from friction and acting as a barrier to water. Another inexpensive way to keep your feet dry is anti-perspirant deodorant. Common skin toughening techniques include soaking your feet in tea (make sure it’s strongly brewed as it’s the tannic acid that works on the skin) or apply several coats of tincture of benzoin to any vulnerable spots. To prevent blisters between the toes you could try padding with lambswool.
How do you treat a blister?
If the blister is intact and small you can protect it with a blister dressing or plaster. Larger blisters are best drained, keeping the skin intact and covered. If the skin has torn then cut the skin away, wash well and cover. If the blister is painful then you could try covering with a ring shaped cut out of felt.