Blisters are raised pockets of the skin, which are filled with liquid. They when your shoes or socks rub against your skin. Anything that intensifies friction between the foot and the shoes, can lead to blisters. Blisters are both painful and annoying. They will prevent you from walking properly, hiking or doing other duties that involve moving from one point to the other. The good news is that blisters are not a permanent condition, and they will resolve on their own after a few days. Furthermore, you can also avoid them through the following methods:
Wear the Right Shoes
Blisters occur because of friction between the inner surface of shoes and the feet. Therefore, your choice of shoes has an important role to play, when it comes to preventing blisters. Also, you should note that people have different shapes and sizes of feet. And this means that there is no single pair of shoes that can be perfect for every individual. Therefore, it’s important to get the right pair of shoes for your feet, if you want to prevent blisters from occurring. When buying shoes, make sure they leave at least an inch of space between the tip of the shoe and your longest toe. Also, ensure the shoes you intend to purchase, have a spacious toe box. If they have a cramped toe box, then your toes will rub against the inside of the shoe, leading to blisters as well as blackened toenails. You also risk losing your toenails, if you wear shoes with a cramped toe box for extended periods.
You should also ensure that your shoes are not too loose. If your feet slide back and forth when you are walking with those shoes, there is a high chance that you will develop blisters. While it’s important to leave some room for foot expansion, it shouldn’t be too much for your feet to slide around. If the shoes are too loose, you can try wearing them with thick socks. And if your foot is still sliding around even after wearing them with a thick pair of socks, you should consider returning them and choosing another pair. By choosing a pair of shoes that fit your feet properly, you will significantly reduce the occurrence of blisters.
Break-In Shoes Properly.
If you’ve purchased a new pair of shoes, whether they are work shoes, dress shoes, running shoes or walking shoes, make sure you first break them in, before you start using them for their intended purpose. For instance, if you’ve bought a pair of walking shoes, don’t take for extended walks immediately. Instead, you should first wear them for short durations around the house, until they are used to your feet. After that, you can then go with them for short strolls around the neighborhood. As you build your mileage slowly, your feet will grow accustomed to your new shoes.
Wear the Right Socks
Choosing the right pair of socks can also help to prevent blisters. But regardless of the activity, you are doing, always stay away from cotton socks. Socks made of cotton tend to absorb and retain moisture. As much as they can help to control unpleasant foot odors, their dampness will soften your skin, leaving it vulnerable to breaking, in case there is some friction. Instead of cotton, you should opt for synthetic socks, which come with moisture-wicking capabilities. Synthetic socks will wick sweat and perspiration away, thus helping to keep your feet dry. You can use such socks with your hiking shoes, dress shoes or any other type of shoes.
Just like shoes, make sure you choose a pair of socks that fit properly. You should not be walking around with socks that are slipping inside your shoes. An ill-fitting pair of socks will cause skin irritations and hotspots, which will then become blisters. Check their packaging to ensure you choose the right size. And if you are not sure about the sizes, then you can simply try them on to asses how well they fit your fit. If you are wearing high-cut boots, then it goes without saying that you should also wear high-cut socks, to prevent direct contact between the boots and your skin.
During the cold weather, you can opt for double-layer socks. Apart from helping to keep your feet warm, double layer socks will also wick away moisture and reduce friction, thus preventing this foot condition. When hiking, make sure you change your pair of socks, immediately you feel they are too wet. Walking or trekking with a wet pair of socks will definitely lead to friction, which can cause blisters.
Liner socks can also help to prevent blisters, especially when you are hiking or jogging. Liner socks serve two main functions – they prevent friction and wick away moisture. If you will be wearing stiff mountaineering or hiking boots, then you should bring along a pair of liner socks. On the other hand, if you will be wearing lightweight, softer boots, then you might not need liner socks.
Toughen Up Your Feet
Soft feet are at a greater risk of getting blisters than tough feet. Therefore, if you are always getting blisters whenever you go for a long walk, hike or run, then you should consider toughening up your feet. So, how can you toughen up your feet? First, take off your shoes when you get home and make it a habit of walking around the house barefoot. Second, you can try to walk without shoes whenever you visit your park or when you are strolling on the beach. The abrasive nature of these surfaces will help to toughen your feet. Rubbing alcohol on the soles of your feet can also help to harden the skin. Rubbing your feet with tannic acid or soaking them in strong tea twice daily for at least 3 weeks can also help to toughen them up.
Lubricate Your Feet
As noted earlier, blisters occur when there is friction between the interior surface of the shoe and the skin. Therefore, if you minimize this friction, then you will reduce the occurrence of blisters. Lubricating your feet provides an easy way of reducing this friction. There are various products that you can use to lubricate your feet. They include petroleum jelly, AD ointment, and Teflon. Petroleum jelly is readily available in almost all retail outlets. Apart from that, it’s not expensive and doesn’t contain harmful substances. In fact, petroleum jelly is one of the most recommended lubricants for walkers and marathoners. On the flipside, petroleum jelly doesn’t wash off easily from socks. Therefore, if you are planning to use it, then you will have to discard that pair of socks, once you’ve finished your activity. AD ointment is available in stores that sell baby diapers.
Keep Your Feet Dry
Sweaty feet are one of the biggest challenges that hikers, runners, and most shift workers face every day. While sweating is a natural process, accumulation of moisture and heat inside the shoes, will not only lead to blisters, but it also provides the perfect breeding conditions for fungus and bacteria. So, how can you prevent this problem and keep your feet dry?
- Make sure you are wearing proper footwear for the job: For example, if you will be working or hiking in hot weather conditions, then you don’t need to wear waterproof boots. Instead, you should opt for lightweight, breathable boots. Such boots will allow sweat and perspiration to escape while allowing cool air to flow inside the boots. With such boots, your feet will always remain cool and dry.
- Use talcum, baby powder or cornstarch powder: Applying cornstarch or talcum powder to your feet before you start your day, can help to keep them dry and cool. Make sure you apply the powder to your feet before you slip on your socks. Don’t forget the areas between your toes. Also, you should sprinkle some powder inside your boots before you put them on.
- Apply an antiperspirant: Commercial antiperspirant can also help to keep your feet dry. While there are different types of antiperspirants you can choose from, make sure you go for one that contains aluminum chloride and aluminum zirconium as the active ingredients.
If you are working or hiking and your socks or shoes become wet, you should remove them immediately. Let them dry completely before you wear them again. Dry feet, dry socks, and dry shoes are key to preventing blisters.
Cover Problem Areas
Most blisters occur on the toes, behind the foot and on the side of the foot. The good news is that you can prevent blistering in these areas by covering them up, using tape, moleskin, special patches, and gel bandages. By covering these areas, you are protecting them from the continuous rubbing of the shoes, thus preventing blisters from forming. However, most of these materials don’t stay in place for long. Therefore, you need to reapply them after 3 hours or so or find one that can stick the entire day.
If you run, hike, bike or your job involves spending a considerable part of your day on your feet, then blisters can make your life unbearable. But don’t allow them to stop you from doing what you love most. By planning ahead and using the above tips, you will never have to worry about blisters in your life again.