Blister! Arghhh! You know when you’ve got one, you feel it before you see it. That burning, stinging pain that just gets worse every time you land your foot. At the least they’re uncomfortable, at worst they can stop you in your tracks. Here’s how you can prevent getting blisters – and what you can do about them if those nasty little bumps do appear.
How to avoid getting blisters
1. Let’s make the obvious point first – wear good-fitting footwear! The problem with buying walking shoes is you only get to wander round in a shop when trying them on. Or not wear them at all if buying online. What’s comfy and well-fitting parading around a flat shop floor for five minutes is no substitute for tramping them along a rocky ridge all day. Wear thick socks, or two pairs of thinner socks, to provide some cushioning if needed.
2. Wear the right socks. Socks provide extra support, reduce friction and can keep moisture away. Avoid cotton because it soaks up sweat. Nylon is better. Better still are wool-blend socks that wick moisture away from your skin – much like base-layer materials do (read our blog on clothing). As we point out above, there’s no harm in wearing two pairs of socks, so long as there’s sufficient space in your boots.
3. Use tapes and bandages. Apply soft bandages and tape to those parts of your feet you have felt rubbing before or you know are prone to blisters. Make sure they’re designed to stay on sweaty feet, as you don’t want them coming lose and making the problem worse.
4. Reduce friction with creams and powders. You can buy a range of products to help reduce the friction between your feet, socks and shoes. Even a dab of Vaseline will do the trick.
How to treat blisters
If your blister isn’t bothering you too much, your best bet is to leave it be. The body will do its thing and heal the blister for you. Sometimes, leaving it alone isn’t an option. It’s too big, at risk of infection, or in that really awkward spot that means you can’t avoid putting pressure on it.
Here’s what you need to do to deal with that annoying blister:
1. Wash your hands. You don’t want a blister getting infected!
2. Clean the blister. Use a clean swab with water and soap, rubbing alcohol or iodine.
3. Sterilise a needle. Use rubbing alcohol and a clean swab or pad.
4. Take a deep breath. Come on, now. You can do it!
5. Puncture the side of the blister Aim for several spots close to the blister’s edge if you can. Soak up the draining fluid with a clean piece of cotton or gauze.
6. Apply antibiotic ointment. Then place gauze and/or an adhesive bandage over the area and secure it with a plaster or medical tape.
7. Give it two or three days. Cut away and remove dead skin using sterilised tweezers or small scissors.
8. Apply more antibiotic ointment if needed.
If you keep getting blisters in the same place, it’s a sign your footwear isn’t right. Take some of the measures above and you can make the problem go away. If you do get them, don’t worry. Most will heal themselves while others will be gone in days if you take care of them. Don’t let blisters spoil your trip to North Wales!