How to prevent and aid blisters?

If you’ve never had a blister and are reading this to hopefully never get one, let me explain what it feels like, how it’s caused, and my strategies to aid and prevent blisters.

Firstly, the feeling. Imagine a sting on your skin that throbs and burns the more you put pressure on it. Sounds horrible right? The formation of these nasties come as a result of two things in combination.

  1. Friction on the skin for an extended period of time.
  2. The skin producing excessive fluid, sweat or oils on the surface during activity.

Now if you don’t control these factors, Podiatrists like myself usually treat this by draining the blister safely and with proper infection control (important!). However, if you’d prefer never to have one drained, the next bit will break down four ways in which you can avoid both fluid and friction around your feet.

  • Addressing your shoe size

A size too big and your foot will move around the shoe whether you like it or not. And if you don’t move, you should accept that your toes will at least claw to grip the shoe as you move through gait. Crunching your toes or gripping your shoes will still create friction within the forefoot.

In contrast, a shoe that’s too small will generally result in the shoe compressing and causing friction around the borders and arches of the foot. The most common site of pain as a result of this is the back of the heels. Other common places include the tops of toes, underneath or on the inside of the 1st and 5th toe, and under the arches.

  • Toe Separators

Keeping the toes separate when walking is important when it comes to blisters. The reason being is crunching your toes (generally through poor balance, footwear, walking technique etc.) causes greater load through the balls of your feet and also increases how prominent the bones at the tops of your toes become to the upper of the shoe. Buying a toe separator from your chemist or having a custom one created by your podiatrist using a silicone mould may be a good option for you.

  • Keep your feet dry
  1. Socks – By far my favourite socks for blisters are the toe socks. The toe socks have a sleeve for each individual toe. And although they feel like your feet have turned into ET’s feet, they work. Similarly, any sock that works on the premises to absorb moisture is going to be important to delay the fluid component of a blister. On some occasions you may have to change socks regularly to maintain a dry environment for your feet.
  2. Powders and Sprays – talcum powder, friar’s balsam, methylated spirits, etc. have all been used in tandem, or in conjunction with one another to assist with reducing the fluid build-up underneath the feet or in between the toes. There are various brands and companies that offer different products. In my opinion, the process of finding out what works for you is trial and error, because how you feel when moving is the most important thing. The preferred option often varies from patient to patient.
  3. Botox – Hyperhidrosis in the feet is a condition that is hard to just treat with the powders and sprays method. In circumstance that cannot be controlled, it often requires individuals to seek professional advice. Botox treatments are a scientifically proven treatment option for this. Consult your dermatologist to find out more.
  • Padding

This is generally done by a podiatrist, but there’s nothing wrong with trying this at home. I have found padding around the blister is much more successful than using a blister pad in the areas of the heel and arches. If you can offload a blister by creating pressure around the blister using a pad but not on itself i.e. creating a pad in the shape of a doughnut; you will find it will offload the pain to almost its entirety. And although it doesn’t address the cause of the issue it will help you get through your day.

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