Preventing & Healing Skin Blisters
You've hit the trail and the trail hits back. Every step is lesson in pain. Guess what you have a blister. If this is an occasional issue, there probably isn't that much you can do. Even if you take every precaution sometimes you will still get a blister. Sometime it just happens. But it is a different story if this is a frequent problem. With proper planning and care, the thought of stepping into on your boots shouldn't make you wince. Blisters are a hikers worst nightmare. Once a blister forms on the trail, they are very hard to heal and can get infected very easily. The first step is to do everything you can to avoid getting a blister in the first place. Following a few simple tips can help prevent that blister in the first place.
Prevention step #1. Don't wear stupid plastic foorwear like Crocs™. These are not designed for anymore than lounging.
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.
The Causes of 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.
Fitting Your Footwear
If you’re just starting out and you are wearing a new pair of boots, wear them around the house for several days to make sure they are comfortable. Shop at a reputable store where an experienced salesperson can help you find boot that fit right. If you wear them at home and they don’t feel right, take them back to the store and exchange them for another pair.
Breaking in your Footwear
Wear your boots around the house for a few days and then start to take short hikes. Breaking your boots in is more than softening the boot. A big part of this is breaking in your feet. Your feet need to toughen up, too. Assuming you have a pair of boot that fit, this is all about getting your feet and your boots to reach a compromise. It is much better to do this near home than on the trail. We recommend putting about 50 miles on your boots, in short walks, before hitting the trail. This also applies if you've had feet on the couch all winter. Before any epic trek, make sure your feet are ready by taking a few four- or five-mile jaunts to toughen up your feet and soften your boots.
You should always have a pair of wicking sock under you hiking socks. Polypropylene or nylon wicking socks are good. The wicking socks are less abrasive and move moisture away from your feet. Never wear cotton socks. Cotton absorbs moisture and nearly guarantees that you are going to get a blister.
Take It Easy
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.
When you are starting out, take it easy with your mileage. Keep your pack as light as possible to avoid putting any additional stress on your feet.
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.
Once you feel any rubbing in your shoe you have to stop immediately. Don't tough it out and keep going. Find what is causing the rubbing be it; pebble, seed, dirt or wrinkle in your sock. If the boot is too tight, you can try to stretch the boot a little by rubbing the inside of your boot with the rounded end of a Swiss army.
If you have a vulnerable trouble spot, put a piece of moleskin on it before you head out. You can also use crazy glue to add an extra layer of skin over a hot spot. This can sometimes be more comfortable than moleskin.
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 (2-Hydroxy-2-phenylacetophenone or 2-Hydroxy-1,2-Diphenylethanone or desyl alcohol or bitter almond oil camphor ) 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.
If you feel some rubbing on the trail, put a piece of moleskin over the hot spot. If the blister has already started forming, use a burn dressing called Second Skin; after all, blisters are nothing more than friction burns. Make sure your feet are dry before applying moleskin or adhesive tape. Covering the hotspot will greatly reduce the rubbing that your boot causes on the hot spot.
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.