Blisters Can Be Prevented, But If You Get One, There Are Effective Ways To Treat Them
Here we are in the middle of summer! The kids are out of school for a couple of months and maybe you are able to get time off from your job. This makes the summer a very popular time of the year to hike, even though it is the hottest season.
Unfortunately, this is also one of the most common times of the year to get blisters on your feet.
Thankfully, there are some precautions we can take to minimize the risk of getting these foot blisters.
Be proactive. The last thing you want is to be already a mile or two into your hike and start feeling a blister forming on your foot. The time to start thinking about preventing blisters is before you leave for your trip.
How To Prevent Getting Blisters On Your Feet
- As soon as you know you will be going on a major hike, start breaking in your hiking boots. Several weeks before the hike, start wearing your hiking boots everywhere you go, which includes around the house and when you go out to do errands.
- Should you feel a hotspot or two developing, cover the spots with bandages. You will still need to continue the breaking in process, to give your skin a chance to “toughen up”.
- In order to find the most comfortable fit, experiment with several different types and combinations of liner socks and insoles.
- While it is important to keep your feet dry, sometimes it can’t be prevented. If your socks become wet, you must change out of them as soon as you possibly can. If you have “sweaty” feet, use foot powder to lessen the amount of moisture that can form.
- Apply lubricants and/or powder to your feet. Friction is what can cause blisters. Using powder or lubricants can reduce that friction.
Treatment Methods For Blisters
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to prevent or reduce our risks for getting something undesirable, like foot blisters, they occur anyway.
When we first start to feel a hotspot or blister forming, we may think “I just want to make it to my planned stopping point for the night or to a certain spot, before I take care of this brewing problem. So, you continue walking. If you choose to do that, what happens next won’t be pretty.
You need to stop right away to treat it, before it becomes a full-blown blister.
How To Treat Hotspots and/or Newly Forming Blisters
By: Blister Prevention
- As soon as you start to feel friction, stop right away. Start by inspecting the site(s) on your feet where you feel hot spots, but don’t forget to inspect all areas on your feet, even if they don’t hurt yet, including your toes and heels. Look for redness or any other form of irritation.
- Clean the hotspot and the surrounding skin with an alcohol-based gel or a clean, damp cloth.
3. Then, over the affected area, apply a self-adhesive cushioned bandage. Make sure the cushioned bandage is large enough to also cover some of the surrounding skin.
Moleskin is a soft, felt-like fabric that can usually be found in drug stores. Even though it has an adhesive backing, you should fully secure it with an adhesive bandage or tape.
What Happens If You Miss The Early Stages For Treating A Hotspot or Blister?
If you don’t treat the hotspot or newly forming blister right away, you will feel a squishy sac on your foot, which means you now have a fully formed blister.
Your 2 main goals at this point must be to prevent an infection and to save the skin.
As a rule, you should not “pop” the blister. You should allow it to drain on its own.
How To Treat A Fully-Formed Blister On Your Foot
- If the blister is intact and less than 1/2 an inch in diameter, use a damp cloth to clean the area. Dry the area and apply a cushioned bandage over it. If needed, don’t be afraid to apply several layers of bandaging. Then secure all of it with several strips of tape.
- If the blister is larger than 1/2 an inch or if the sac looks like it is ready to “pop”, you can puncture the base of the blister with a sterilized needle or knife to allow the fluid to drain out. Do Not remove the skin flap! Keep it intact. Clean the wound with a clean, damp cloth or an alcohol-based gel. Be Prepared – it is going to sting!
- Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the entire area with a sterilized gauze pad.
- To prevent further friction to the wound area, cover the sterilized gauze pad with inclusive Moleskin and secure all of it with bandages or tape.
- The wound will need to be checked at least once per day. Clean the area, again making sure to keep the skin intact. Then, using the process above, apply ointment, a new sterilized pad, Moleskin and secure everything with clean bandages or tape.
Prevention is the key. Have the right first aid items and extra pairs of dry socks with you, just in case you need them.
Don’t ignore the warning signs. Address them right away.
Take breaks as needed to give your feet time to “air out”.
To read another interesting article from The Joy of Hiking, click the link below.