Table of Contents
Blisters are among the most common problems experienced by hikers. This is one of the key factors for ruining a hike. Are you one of those people who think it’s normal to have blisters on your feet when hiking? Not me, because it’s not a matter of luck.
To prevent blisters when hiking, you first need to know why and how they appear. The three main factors are the heat that comes from repeated rubbing between the skin and the sock, moisture that relaxes the skin and promotes blisters, and dirt such as sand, gravel, twigs, and other things that amplify rubbing.
Don’t think you can just ignore the pain. This may be possible in the short term, but very unpleasant and painful in the long term. It is absolutely essential to prevent blisters if you want to enjoy your hikes. They can be treated but it is better to avoid them.
And it’s easy if you will follow these few techniques and tips that many people neglect.
As is often the case, well-prepared trekking can avoid most problems. And yes, even to prevent blisters.
You are more likely to get blisters with new shoes than with shoes already worn (by you, not by someone else). This is all the more important for hiking boots as they are more rigid. For example, trail shoes are easier to break in than leather trekking shoes. You can take advantage of this “breaking in” period to test the pairs of socks that fit best with these shoes and to find the right lacing for them to be comfortable.
Do not wear socks that have holes or are too damaged. In these cases, the sock won’t protect well, and it is your foot that will suffer.
Some people combine two pairs of socks. A pair of under socks or sock liners (e. g. polypropylene or silk) in contact with the skin to remove perspiration and transfer it to the outer pair of socks. These must be specialized for hiking. This way, your feet are dry, the friction is confined to the outer sock and the inner sock stays in contact with the foot.
How many of us have waited until lunchtime to take off our shoes while it’s been some time that our feet have been hurting – only to realize it is too late? That’s why, once you’re walking, you have to be attentive and take care of your feet.
Inspect your feet for areas of overheating, irritation, or redness that are the first signs of blister appearance. You can also immerse them in cold water – as long as you can dry them properly before you put your shoes back on. The cold hardens the skin, relieves overheating, and reduces swelling of the feet.
Always try to determine the cause of these sensations. Check that you have no debris in your shoes or socks (sand, gravel, twigs, etc.). If your socks are wet, change them. Also, make sure your socks don’t wrinkle. If you notice any redness, irritation, or heating, you can use a plaster bandage, blister bandage, or something similar to protect the area. Don’t forget to remove it as soon as you stop walking, so the skin can heal.
If your socks are wet, change them to a dry pair. Always take one or more extra pairs of socks. You can dry the wet pair on your backpack if weather permits or slip it under your jacket on your shoulders if it rains. For multi-day hikes, dry your shoes and socks as well as possible during the night – even if you must put them in your sleeping bag.
Here are some prevention methods, some of which work well and others less so, depending on the person. It’s up to you to test if you need them and what works for you:
In short, to prevent blisters when hiking, keep your feet dry, cool, and clean. For that, it’s simple: follow the advice I just gave you.
Keep in mind that the longer the hike, the more difficult the terrain, the higher the elevation, and the heavier your backpack, the more stress and friction your feet will experience. You are therefore more likely to have blisters under these conditions.
Remember also that all feet are different and have their own requirements. It’s up to you to test and find out what’s best for them.
If you ever have one or more blisters, it is essential to take good care of them to avoid suffering too much and keeping the situation from getting worse. To learn how to care for a foot blister while hiking, read below.
Foot blisters are an inevitable topic of discussion at bivouacs and shelters. There are always people who take care of their blisters and each one of them makes a commitment to the best way to achieve that.
As we discussed all the ways to prevent blisters when hiking, sometimes, even with a lot of caution, blisters can appear.
We will therefore look at some practical tips for treating a blister. I want to make it clear that I am not a doctor and that the techniques presented here are the subject of considerable discussion because some of them are contradictory.
There is no single solution, it depends on each individual, the type of blister, and its condition. This chapter is divided into two main parts depending on whether or not your blister has already burst when you start the treatment.
In this case, there are two opposing solutions:
As far as I’m concerned, I do one or the other depending on the type of blister – surface or deep.
These blisters, if not treated quickly, have a chance of popping or tearing themselves while you continue to walk.
I prefer to burst these types of blisters because they are very annoying and cause friction because of their volume. Sometimes they even force you to walk in an unnatural way which can lead to further injuries.
For example, it is not uncommon for a person to develop tendinitis in the knee because they have a blister on their foot. Because the blister is bothersome and painful, the person walks with the foot across the knee and damages the tendons in his or her knees.
Use a sterilized needle to puncture it. The easiest way to sterilize a needle when hiking is to make it turn red with a flame (wait until it cools down first). Then let the liquid flow out of the blister and squeeze it, without damaging it, to try to remove all the liquid. Further care depends on the condition of the skin of the blister:
Some tips for this type of blisters:
At least, in this case, there is no need for a long debate on whether to pop it or not.
If the blister is burst, torn, or opened, cut off excess skin near the edges of the blister with sterilized scissors and disinfect the new skin with alcohol or antiseptic. You have to be careful that it doesn’t get infected. Then it all depends on if you have to keep walking:
I have presented here different techniques for treating a foot blister while hiking by also adding my point of view. I know that many people have a different approach. Some people puncture all the blisters and others don’t. I, therefore, advise you to experiment and see what suits you best.
Always keep in mind that prevention is better than cure and that it is better to treat a blister as quickly as possible. Second, it is absolutely necessary to take care of it regularly to prevent it from getting worse. Don’t wait for the pain to make you act – it’s often too late and is a very good way to spoil a hike.
To learn more about the characteristics and types of climbing harness, we will answer a…
If you're thinking about climbing, a climbing helmet is your best friend and can really…
Have you decided to start hiking? Congratulations! But where to start? Here is a complete…