How To Prevent Blisters
One of the drawbacks of owning a brand-new pair of shoes is the increased likelihood of developing blisters. These small fluid-filled bubbles on the skin of the feet can make life miserable. You may have the best-looking dress shoes at the gala or the toughest-looking hiking shoes on the trails but if your feet are suffering from blisters, you will never be able to enjoy such activities. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of blisters. These can include moisture, pressure, and friction. If you want to enjoy the full benefits of wearing a pair of new shoes, then you should address these factors. So, sit back as we give you 7 helpful tips on how you can free yourself from the horrors of blisters on your feet.
1. Choose The Right Size And Type Of Shoe For The Activity
Blisters form as a result of friction against the skin. Any material that rests on the skin surface has the potential to cause friction. When the material rubs against the skin, it shears the underlying tissues, leading to microscopic tissue damage. Tissue injury doesn’t only occur because of shearing forces. Friction also produces heat, which can be a different form of injury to the tissues. The combination of heat and shearing forces can hasten the development of blisters.
Hence, choosing the right type of shoe for any activity as well as the correct size is important.
When buying your shoes, it’s best to do so late in the afternoon or early evening. This is because the feet will have swollen to their fullest by this time of the day. In the morning, the body is still able to compensate for the upward flow of blood from the feet. However, as the day progresses, the heart may no longer be able to move blood in an efficient manner. Hence, some of the blood remains in the lower extremities, causing the feet to swell.
Always give an allowance to the size of your footwear. It’s always best to go for about half-size larger than the actual shoe size. For example, if you know that your shoe size is 10, then you should go for at least a 10.5. If you’re not sure about your shoe size, you can insert a finger between your heel and the rear portion of the shoe. If you can wriggle your finger with relative ease, then you have a nice-fitting shoe.
It’s also good to pay attention to the type of shoe that you want to wear for a particular activity. For example, if you’re going hiking, then you need to consider comfort and protection. It’s not nice to wear heavy and non-breathable hiking shoes when you’re trekking on the edge of the Sahara or the Kalahari. Likewise, you don’t want to wear a pair of shoes that isn’t waterproof when you’re hiking in snow-covered trails.
2. Observe The Proper Procedure Of Breaking-In Your Shoes
Don’t ever think that buying the right type and size of shoe will 100% save you from blisters. The correct type and size of shoe can help reduce the incidence of blisters. However, you also have to take additional precautions to make sure these skin problems don’t crop up. One good way to improve your chances of preventing blisters is by breaking in your shoe the correct way.
Breaking in your brand-new shoes is important as it helps hasten the process of normal wear. This softens the material, helping reduce the risk of creating friction against the skin. There are several ways you can go about breaking in your new footwear.
First, you can wear it more often, but in shorter sessions. The old way of breaking in shoes was to wear them all day long to speed up the process of wear. Unfortunately, this also increases the risk of blister formation. Hence, a better approach will be wearing the shoes for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. After each “session”, give your feet a much-needed break of about 1.5 to 2 hours. You can then resume the 10 to 15-minute wearing of the shoe. Do this cycle throughout the day.
Second, you can increase the speed of softening of the shoe material by putting a large potato in the toe section. Leave it overnight. As an alternative method, you can wear thicker socks. This will help push the shoe material outwards to increase the space between the shoe and the skin surface.
Third, if your shoe happens to be leather, you can blast it with hot air from a blow dryer. This will soften the shoe material. For those with non-leather materials, putting a bag of water in the toe section and then freezing the footwear overnight often helps. For new sandals, immersing it in water for several minutes, then walking with them can help.
3. Always Wear The Correct Type Of Socks
One of the most common causes of blisters on the feet is friction. Therefore, putting another layer of protection between the shoe and the skin is crucial. For this, you’ll need the right type of socks. Take into consideration where you are going to use the shoes.
For instance, if you’re going to wear it in a very hot environment, then you’d want to wear socks that are quick-drying. One crucial characteristic of these types of socks is their moisture-wicking capabilities. They should be able to absorb moisture from your feet while allowing the socks to dry very quickly.
In addition to friction, blisters can also be secondary to moisture. The accumulation of moisture can soften the surface of the skin. This can make it more susceptible to shearing forces. As the foot moves with the shoe, it rubs against the inner lining of the footwear. If the skin is already softened by moisture, then there’s an increased risk of developing blisters.
The same is true when traveling to very cold places. You will need a pair of socks that have excellent waterproofing capabilities. Again, the idea here is to prevent the entry of moisture through the sock material. Of course, you also don’t want to freeze your feet and risk developing frostbite altogether.
It is also for this reason that you should wear the same type of socks whenever you’re buying a pair of brand-new shoes. This will give you a much better understanding of the correct size of shoes to buy.
4. Minimize Foot Friction By Using Appropriate Foot Care Products
Aside from wearing the correct socks for your feet, sometimes it helps to apply a couple of other products to help minimize friction.
One of these products is foot powder. You may laugh but this works to absorb moisture from your feet. There are also those that feature unique formulations so that they can minimize skin irritation. Some foot powder come with medications that can start healing hot spots on the feet. These are tender areas that when left out, can turn into full-blown blisters.
Foot powders are very easy to use. You can sprinkle ample amounts of your chosen powder on your feet before you put on your socks. Not only do these minimize the incidence of blisters, they can also make your feet smell nice.
If you’re not keen on dusting the feet with powder, then a sock liner might be a great alternative. This is a sock within your sock. It’s like a very thin glove, complete with sleeves for each of your toes. Since each toe has its own “glove”, you get to minimize friction between the toes.
Not a fan of sock liners? How about applying petroleum jelly on your feet? The slick nature of petroleum jelly can help reduce resistance. This oily substance can also form a waterproof barrier for the feet. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the use of such products on the feet. It can produce a very foul smell. So, it’s your decision.
5. Learn How To Manage Hot Spots As They Develop
One of the earliest signs of an impending blister is the formation of hot spots on the skin. These are areas of the foot that are more vulnerable to the effects of friction. These can include the heel, the outer aspect of the foot, and the topside of the toes. In some instances, the sides of the toes can also rub against each other, causing hot spots.
If you are not sure where these hot spots can form, try wearing your brand-new shoes for about an hour or two. After a while you will notice a certain area in your feet that is uncomfortable. You may already have a hot spot developing. This will also appear reddish and may feel warm to the touch; hence, the term “hot spot”.
Hot spots are not blisters yet but are already signs of an impending blister formation. Hence, the moment you notice that your feet already has hot spots, you should prevent them from worsening into blisters.
There are several ways you can manage hot spots on your foot. You can purchase a paper surgical tape which you can apply over the hot spot. This will help form a barrier between the affected area and the inner surface of the shoe. It’s like putting another layer of protection to help minimize the shearing forces on the skin. The good thing about a paper surgical tape is that it is often laced with medications. These can help soothe the discomfort of the hot spot while aiding in the healing of the irritated skin tissue.
One can also purchase a blister kit that comes with blister pads, gels, and bandages. While it’s true that hot spots are not yet blisters, you can always apply these anti-blister products. They can help avert the worsening of the hot spots into full-blown blisters.
6. Keep Your Feet Dry And Clean
As already mentioned, moisture can hasten the effects of friction on the feet. If the feet get too damp, there’s a chance that the skin will become so soft that it loses its protective capabilities.
It is, thus, essential that you keep your feet dry at all times. Wearing moisture-wicking socks is one of the best ways to keep the feet dry. If you’re going to walk in the rain, then you might want to invest in a shoe with waterproof characteristics. Bringing extra socks can also help.
When you’re walking or hiking on a dusty trail, there’s also a chance that dust and dirt can get inside your shoes. These can rub against both the shoe and your feet, producing blisters. Hence, wearing gaiters over your shoes should be a good idea as it helps cover the top opening of the footwear.
Keeping your feet clean and dry can go a long way towards preventing blisters. This can maintain the health and hygiene of the feet.
7. Practice Giving Your Feet A Break From Time To Time
If you’re in the office, find time to remove your shoes every few hours or so. Give the feet ample time to “breathe”. This will also help relieve the pressure that may be present in certain areas of the feet. These pressure points are the hot spots that can turn into blisters.
Removing your shoes for about 10 to 15 minutes every 3 to 4 hours should be enough to give the feet the much-needed rest. You can also give your feet a much-needed massage. If you have one of those fancy foot massagers in the office, you can use this to help stimulate blood circulation in the feet.
If you’re outdoors, you can observe the same suggestion. Give your feet a much-needed break. For instance, when trekking for hours, you can remove your hiking boots when you reach a particular waypoint. This can help prevent the formation of blisters.
If you want to prevent blisters, you’ve got to focus on managing pressure, friction, and moisture on your feet. These 7 tips address these factors so you’ll have a much better chance reducing the risk of blisters.
- Tips to Prevent and Treat Blisters for Hikers, Bikers, and Runners – Intermountain Healthcare