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By Diane Spicer
Let's keep this simple:
Blister prevention is better than blister treatment.
You, an active hiker, do not want blisters.
Trust me on this.
To avoid the nastiness of blood blisters or deep, painful eroded blisters on your heels and toes, these 8 tips are what you need to take good care of your hiking feet.
None of this is medical advice, just common sense!
If you have extreme blisters or skin wounds that don't heal quickly, get thee to a medical professional ASAP.
Now let's look at eight ways you can take good care of your hiking feet.
Spend time and money on finding boots that fit properly. Keep trying until you find boots hat give you no cause for concern on any type of terrain or any length of hike.
Give your toes plenty of room with these Hiking For Her tried and true trail footwear recommendations.
Take fast action on spots on your feet that feel hot or tender after the first hour of hiking.
Full disclosure: Duct tape doesn't breathe very well, and is very slippery.
It also welds into one solid, unusable mass if left too long on a water bottle.
Here's an alternative: Leukotape.
This breathes better that tape, but the stickiness rapidly disappears if trail grit gets on it or your fingers touch it too much.
And use the scissors from your first aid kit to cut it to fit.
Carry an extra pair of boots or hiking shoes in your pack.
I have been known to do this if I don't trust a new, or cranky, pair of boots.
As far as my feet are concerned, the extra weight is worth it for blister prevention.
As in, play around with different sock combinations.
Liners and hiking socks abound!
But not all of them are designed for the type of hiking you like to do.
So be willing to experiment for awhile until you find exactly what works best for you.
And don't get discouraged.
You're looking for a combo that works for your particular feet and your choice of trail footwear.
Luckily, socks are not as pricey as boots, and you'll eventually find the perfect boot and sock combo if you keep at it.
To prevent hot spots from forming on your toes, try these high performance toe socks:
And read my review of Armaskin anti-blister socks here. They're something completely different for hiking feet!
Pay attention to your toenails.
If you clench your toes inside your boots due to nail issues, it can lead to blisters or worse - hammer toes, for instance.
For a full discussion of hiking foot care approaches, read this.
Spot check yourself along the trail:
Know what normal wear & tear looks like on your feet.
Here's a personal example:
I have a zone on my soles between my toes and the arch where dead skin bubbles up and flakes off, similar to a blister but painless.
Why is that a big deal?
My liners can't rub and cause hot spots, which inevitably lead to blisters.
So check out your feet, especially the bottoms, and do a little preventive maintenance.
Avoid high heels in your non-trail life.
The shoes you wear daily have a huge impact on how your hiking boots fit.
There are any number of reasons for avoiding high heels, including
But the link between high heels and blisters is this:
Your feet will be molded into the shape of your daily shoes much more so than your hiking boots, simply because of the amount of contact time.
When you plunge your foot into your hiking boot on Saturday, after wearing heels Monday through Friday, the contact points will be vastly different.
This sets you up for rubbed skin, and the creation of a blister (which is the separation of your epidermis from your underlying dermis, in case I didn't mention it earlier).
Harness the magic of water with applied hiking hydrotherapy!
Every chance you get on the trail, take off your boots and allow Mother Nature's cool waters to caress your footsies!
Hiking hydrotherapy is:
Ahhhh... perfect blister prevention!
Sometimes blister prevention just isn't enough!
Especially if you have a tough hike out to the trail head.
Blister treatment is pretty straightforward, but you need a few supplies.
Try this magic stuff! I carry it in my pack "just in case".Adventure Medical Kits GlacierGel Blister and Burn Dressing
To combine the magic of Glacier Gel and the physical barrier of moleskin, get this kit.
Now for the fun part:
Read this first for blister treatment tips.
Then steel yourself to pop, or let the friction of your socks and footwear do the job for you.
Keep your skin as clean as possible, regardless of which path you take to dealing with a blister.
Then make up your mind to put these blister prevention tips into practice next time!
Don't be defeated by your feet!
Pay attention to them.
With these 8 tips for blister prevention you're well on your way to breaking the blister cycle.
Invest a bit of time and money into hiker self care, and you'll be dancing down the trail.
Disclaimer: As long as someone else carries your pack. But that's a different story!
Before you go, dip into more hiking self care tips for happy trails.
Best Blister PreventionTips