During the warmer months of the year, it is particularly important that you air your feet and change your socks often during your trek. Blisters are not only caused by hard boots or a wrinkle in your sock. The closed environment in your boots is the perfect breeding ground for micro-organisms that decrease the resistance of your skin. Washing your feet regularly helps prevent blisters and there is also a lot more you can do to take care of your feet – even before you leave on your trek.
Before your trek
Break in your boots well and learn how they work on your feet. In particular, take note of where you usually get blisters, which is often visible as a small red area. Remember this so you will be able to prevent future blisters.
Purchase Anti-Blister Socks.
I came across Armaskin online, this is an Australian company that deliver worldwide, i decided to give a pair of the socks a go and these are probably one of the best investments I have made for hiking and walking. The are 100% guaranteed or money back.
ArmaSkin anti-blister second skin socks ( liner socks) address all these conditions that cause blisters:
- The inner surface of the sock has a silicon polymer friction coating which gently adheres to the skin and PREVENTS any FRICTION that can occur naturally between socks and skin. Any friction generated in the boot/shoe is absorbed by the outer fabric.
- The polymer coating is macro porous and hydrophobic (water hating) therefore REPELS MOISTURE away from the skin keeping it drier.
- Better HEAT dissipation is achieved thanks to the hydrophobic/ hydrophilic moisture management. i.e one side of the fabric is water hating the other side is water loving.
- The Si fusion polymer coating gently adheres to the skin and importantly shares skin shear forces across wider surface areas of skin thus reducing damage.
In addition the Silicon fusion polymer is bacteria static so the socks can be worn for prolonged periods of time.
Wash them with your normal clothes but avoid using bleach, fabric softener or sending them to the dry cleaners.
A few weeks before you leave, make sure that you do not have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is characterised by flaking skin, often between the toes but also elsewhere on the foot. It can be easily treated with cream from the pharmacist.
Wash your feet and sand down calluses. Clip your toenails, but make sure that the toenail on your big toes is straight to avoid ingrown toenails. Massage your feet with cream to soften the skin.
When leaving for your trek
If you know that you usually get blisters, tape any sensitive areas before leaving on your trek. Elastoplast is flexible and fits comfortably. Stretch the tape slightly before you apply it and tape diagonally under the foot and a bit up on the sides, but leave around 2 cm between the ends. If needed, heat the tape with your hands so it will stick better.
Sports tape and other types of non-elastic tape are not as practical since they can often wrinkle, which contributes to the problem.
While on your trek
Air your feet when you take a break. Change your socks at least once a day and if they get wet. If you feel that a blister is starting to form, stop immediately and tape the area that hurts or where the skin is red. Apply a double layer of Elastoplast, following the instructions above. Tape the heel first in the back and then horizontally out to the side of the foot with one or a few pieces of tape. Then attach a piece of tape from underneath upwards, overlapping the first pieces of tape.
If you get a blister
There are different theories about how to handle a blister, but there is one proven method:
• Puncture the blister as close to the healthy skin as possible, preferably in two places.Use a small pair of sharp scissors and cut a small V in the blister.
• Rinse and wash with drinking water or cleaning solution for sores (you can buy handy disposable cleaning pads for sores at the pharmacist). Dry your foot thoroughly.
• Large blisters filled with fluid can be covered with a Compeed bandage. Make sure that the Compeed is secure and clip away any wrinkles (for example if you wrap one around a toe) with scissors.
• Cover with one-two layers of Elastoplast as described above. Carefully put your socks on so you do not pull up the edges of the tape.
• Avoid removing the tape or attempting to change the bandage. Trim away loosened tape edges with a pair of scissors and reinforce with an additional layer of tape.
The other method which is my preferred method involves a needle, thread, small pair of scissors and some betadine or something to sterilize your items.
- Thread the needle with about 30cm of plain white cotton thread
- Cover the needle and thread in betadine / sterlizing fluid so that the needle is covered and the cotton thread has soaked up the fluid.
- Wipe the blister and surrounding area with antiseptic.
- Pass the needle through the skin of the blister and pull needle out of other side.
- Gently pull and push the thread through the blister (this allows the antiseptic solution to be drawn in to the blister off the thread.
- Drain the fluid by gently pressing on the blister.
- Cut the thread leaving about 3cm each side
- Dress blister and crack on!
Here’s the best video I could find online to show how to drain a blister.
Massage at night
Wash your feet every night before climbing into your sleeping bag (at the same time as you take care of other personal hygiene needs). Add skin cream as well and rub it in using small circular motions for approximately five minutes. In addition to softening up the skin and tired muscles, this massage also improves circulation and makes it easier for your feet to withstand another day on the trail.