Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
All walkers at some time or another get blisters either on the heels, the ball of the foot or at the edge of the big toe or on the little toe. It is advisable when walking, especially long distances, to carry a basic blister treatment pack a few band aid, Compeed, moleskin blister covers, a sewing needle and white cotton thread and a few antiseptic wipes.
Blisters are a fluid sac which is caused by heat and/or friction. Proper care of the feet before and during walking can prevent blisters. If at all possible blisters should be prevented from bursting as if they burst the area can very easily become infected.
Several factors contribute to blisters
Shoes or boots that are too tight
Friction between socks and feet or shoes and feet
Heat if your feet are too warm they will sweat and moisture softens the feet and makes them prone to blisters.
Socks wearing socks that do not wick moisture away from the feet will cause the feet to overheat, sweat and consequently blister.
Rough spots on shoes or rough seams on socks will cause friction.
Prevention is better than cure and a few simple steps before walking will pay dividends later in the prevention of blisters. If you walk a lot and regularly you should toughen up your feet.
Walk barefoot whenever you can
Soak your feet a couple of times per week in cold tea. The tannic acid hardens the skin.
Rub rubbing alcohol (surgical spirits or methylated spirits) on the heels, sides of feet, and the ball of the foot a few times per week. This hardens the feet.
Do not pumice the calluses too deeply on your feet. Calluses are hard skin which will not blister.
When walking wear two pairs of socks one thin pair of high wicking socks inside and a thicker cushioned sock on the outside. Keep your feet as dry as you can during walking. Shaking talcum powder or corn starch in you socks and/or shoes will help. Rub a lubricant such as petroleum jelly or Body Glide liberally on your feet before putting on your socks. On long walks stop every hour or so and open your shoes and let your feet air. If the inside socks are moisture laden change them. If you feel a hot spot on your foot do not ignore it. Cover it with Band-Aid.
If the inevitable happens and you get a blister dont panic. Attend to it immediately. Cover the area with Elastoplast, moleskin, a piece of bandage or even duct tape anything to cut down the friction between shoe and skin or sock and skin. There are special blister covers with a hole in the middle available in drugstores which encircle the blister and keep distance between it and the shoe.
If the blister is large you can drain it before covering it. Thread a sterilised sewing needle with white cotton. Pierce the blister at on side and exit with the sewing cotton at the other side. Leave a one inch tail at both ends. The fluid in the blister will drain through these tails and prevent the raw skin under the blister from exposure and infection.
If the skin is broken rub the affected area with antiseptic wipes and cover. Do not cover a broken blister with any product which excludes air, it will increase the danger of infection. As soon as you can expose the broken blister to the air. Air will dry up the blister and facilitate quicker healing.
Blisters are extremely painful and will turn an enjoyable hike or walk into a pain filled nightmare. Avoid them if at all possible. Take precautions beforehand.
Enjoy your walking!