Preventing Blisters

Picture this — you’ve finally decided to take your new pair of shoes on a test drive. You feel elated at first, but that feeling quickly fades away, giving way to a sharp pain — blisters!

Blisters are an all-too-common ailment that affects kids and adults alike. And while they do heal on their own, it’s always best to avoid this painful condition if we can.

So, here’s a quick guide to how you can prevent painful blisters without giving up on your latest new footwear!

What Is A Blister?

A blister is a painful pocket of fluid that forms between the top layers of the skin when it is damaged by repeated pressure, moisture, or friction. It is part of the body’s defence mechanism, which protects the deeper skin layers from further injury.

Blisters often heal on their own within a week, but they can be painful to the point where they literally stop you in your tracks, affecting your day-to-day life.

How to Avoid Blisters: The Only 101 You’ll Ever Need

Since blisters typically result from friction, it’s best to avoid any skin irritation or rubbing. Here are some easy tips you can incorporate to reduce your chances of developing these irritating serum pockets.

Ensure your footwear is a good fit

Did you know the size of your feet changes throughout the day? When you’re on your feet, whether for running, hitting the gym, or walking up and down the stairs, blood and fluid accumulate in the feet, causing them to swell. This changes your foot size and shape. And as most of these activities are carried out during the day, your feet tend to be larger in the evening than in the morning.

So, how can you get the perfect fit for your feet? Go shoe shopping in the afternoon; it’ll help you avoid choosing a size too small.

It is essential that you have the right size and shape of shoe or boot. Too tight a fit can cause pressure sores; too loose will cause friction. To check if you have the correct fit, you can take out your insole and put your foot down on it. You should have about a thumb width of space between the end of your toes and the end of the insole. When buying a new boot or shoe, look for footwear with wider straps and adjustable fastenings that allow greater flexibility. You should also consider opting for materials like leather as it moulds to the shape of your feet to ensure a snug fit that won’t rub. Most reputable outdoor pursuits retailers should be able to measure your foot accurately using a calibrated tool and will be able to advise you on fit.

Choose appropriate socks

Comfortable socks made from moisture-wicking material such as wool, merino, acrylic or bamboo will help prevent the development of blisters by drawing moisture away from the foot. These materials repel water rather than absorb it. But ensure when you buy socks that you try them on with your walking shoes or boots to check that they will be a comfortable fit.

You should also choose socks suitable for the weather and the activity you have in mind. Thick socks, for example, are ideal for high-impact activities like running and hiking. But while they cushion the vulnerable parts of your feet, they also become moist easily. So, consider wearing two pairs of light socks instead.


Even neatly fitting footwear may cause sores and blisters if not broken in first. The material needs to soften and stretch a little, creating some give around your feet. Wear your new walking shoes or boots around the house for a while before you go out walking in them for the first time. You may feel a bit daft doing so, but it will be well worth it to break in those new shoes before wearing them outdoors.

Keep Your Feet Dry

A lot of moisture around your feet will encourage blisters to form.

Sweaty or damp feet have higher friction, which can increase your risk of blistering.

If you’re going for a long walk or running a marathon, it would pay to dry your feet with a towel halfway through the distance if you tend to have sweaty feet. Try to avoid long periods of walking in wet conditions, and always remember to take a spare pair of socks with you. Not only will the help to prevent blisters, it will also help to prevent fungal infections.

You can also use talcum powder, corn starch, baby powder, or an antiperspirant to keep moisture at bay during athletic activities, which can help to keep your feet from sweating and reduce the incidence of blisters.

Plan Ahead

When thinking about your first hike in your new shoes or boots, plan a short hike. You need to ensure that footwear is properly broken in before attempting a longer hike.

You should also choose socks suitable for the weather and the activity you have in mind. Thick socks, for example, are ideal for high-impact activities like running and hiking. But while they cushion the vulnerable parts of your feet, they also become moist easily. So, consider wearing two pairs of light socks instead.

Forward Thinking

Finally, you can also help prevent blisters by using a soft material such as moleskin to protect possible problem areas. Patches of this can be applied to these areas as an extra layer of protection, using the sticky backing to stick to the skin. It is also a good idea, weather permitting, to remove socks and shoes when you are taking a break to let your skin breathe and let your socks dry out a little.

Should You Pop A Blister?

Popping a blister can be tempting; we get it. But it’s best not to. It’ll only put you at risk of infections.

However, if it’s too large and painful, you may need to drain it. Here’s how:

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands — and the area around the blister — with soap and water.
  2. Sterilize a clean sewing needle with rubbing alcohol. You can also use iodine or an antiseptic skin cleanser.
  3. Poke the needle into the blister’s edge at multiple places and gently press it to drain the liquid, using a clean gauge to soak up the liquid. If it drains clear, the blister is sterile, so you likely won’t need any antibiotics to prevent infections.
  4. Once you’ve opened the blister pocket, wash the area with soap and water to keep it clean. Do not remove the “roof” that blistered, as that keeps the raw skin underneath from developing an infection.
  5. Cut a hole in the padding, place it around the blister, then cover it with a bandage. Be sure to check it daily to watch for any signs of infection.

Keep in mind that you’re creating a chance of infection by draining a blister. And while this process is easy enough to do by yourself, it’s always best to consult a medical professional.

If you notice any redness, pain, or swelling at or around the blistering spot, see a podiatrist at your earliest convenience — especially if you have diabetes, as that puts you more at risk of infections and ulcerations from painful blisters.

So, to summarise

So there you go, some points to consider before investing in new hiking footwear. Take some of these basic precautions to help you enjoy the great outdoors, pain-free, and your feet will thank you for it.

If you are experiencing any pain in your feet, whether it be from a blister or anything else, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a podiatrist like ourselves. We will be happy to treat your foot pain and put that spring back in your step.

*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.