blisters Blisters are the most common problem with feet when hiking, but there are other concerns as well. Impacting hard, rough terrain for miles on end is hard on feet. Just plain old tired out, sore, aching feet can make the end of a hike pretty miserable. Our feet take a lot of punishment while hiking and an urban or sedentary body will feel that punishment much more than someone who has conditioned his feet to the work.

Feet Conditioning


foot blister Just regular walking every day does a great job in preparing your entire body for an extended hike. It improves your breathing, endurance, muscle strength, and conditions your feet. In addition to walking, try these tips:
  • Treat any foot fungus before beginning a hiking program. See a doctor if you need more than over-the-counter medicines.
  • Use Benzoin on the bottoms of your feet to toughen the skin.
  • Wear your new hiking boots on at least 10 5-mile break-in hikes before going on a long all-day hike. Make sure boot and foot are fitted and matched up comfortably. Even your old favorite boots should be worn on a couple short hikes if you haven't used them since last summer.
  • Walk barefoot around your home and outside when you can. This will toughen the skin of your feet. Be careful of stepping on sharp things and stinging insects, of course.
  • Wear supportive, comfortable sandals or other open shoes to help keep your feet dry when just walking around town.
  • Thick calluses or corns can crack and become a problem. Keep your foot skin tough but elastic by using skin cream. You need the callus as padding against blisters, but you may want to remove excessive callus build-up.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed and free from ingrown parts or sharp edges that can irritate skin and wear out expensive hiking socks.

Feet Protection


blister treatment When you start your hike, its a good idea to protect your feet from blisters and other problems before they develop.
  • Wear well-fitting hiking boots. They should not chafe or have pressure points because that will cause blisters. They should be watertight to keep out moisture but breathable to allow foot sweat to escape. They should also have a scree collar to keep out debris.
  • Use thick impact-absorbing insoles.
  • Wear clean, dry, soft hiking socks with no seams that rub on your feet. A polypropylene sock liner that you replace when your feet get damp helps keep feet dry, free from blisters, and less likely to grow fungus. Do not wear cotton socks since they just soak up and retain moisture.
  • Air out your feet at least at the lunch break, but more often if possible, to keep them clean, cool, and dry. Include a soaking in a stream if available, but be sure to let them dry well before hiking again.
  • Stop and remove dirt, sand, or debris that gets in your boots. Stop now, not a mile down the trail or when its time for lunch.
  • Stop and rest your feet when they feel hot, tired, or sore. Remove your boots to allow your feet to cool down and dry off. Alter your hiking pace or adjust the tightness of your boots.
  • If hot spots persist, cover them with moleskin before they become blisters.

Blisters


how to treat blisters Blisters are certainly the most common problem for hikers. Lack of conditioning and improper caring for your feet while hiking are the major cause of these avoidable pains. Blisters are caused by:
  • Heat - generated from your foot rubbing against your sock which is being pressed by your boot.
  • Moisture - softens the skin, resulting in less protection. It also reduces the ability of soft socks to smoothly slide on skin, causing more friction.
  • Grit - sand, dirt, gravel in your boot will increase the friction in concentrated spots, generating more heat.
So, to prevent blisters, all you need to do is remove dirt, moisture, and heat from your feet. Keep your feet cool, dry, and clean. Following the Feet Conditioning and Feet Protection tips above will do that.

How to Treat Blisters

:
  • If the blister has not torn and is full of liquid, pierce it from the side with a sterile needle at its base. Let all the fluid run out.
  • If the blister has torn already, carefully cut away the loose skin of the blister and treat the area with antiseptic.
  • Allow the blister to dry and harden in the open air for as long as you can.
  • When you need to resume hiking, put a bandaid or gauze over a torn blister.
  • Put a layer of moleskin over the blister area. You may cut a doughnut shaped piece of moleskin that fits around the blister rather than directly on it.
  • Check the blister at each stop and give it as much time to dry off as you can whenever you can. Keep it clean and sterilized to prevent infection.
  • Do not pierce intact blisters that are deep, rather than just the top few layers of skin. Just apply a moleskin doughnut to relieve the friction and monitor the blister.

Hike On: Hiking Knees


Comments:
 Apr 19, 2012 - Shanae
I was wearing cowgirl boots with no socks for awhile and It caused blisters. one is ripped open and is SUPPER sensitive. if anything a sock or a bandage touchess it. it hurts really bad. :( and I have a blister on the left and its not popped and it really dosnt hurt. should i leave it alone and let it pop on its own?
Jun 13, 2012 - Jason
We are attempting the Tour of Mont Blanc prior to summit and walking the TMB expect a few blisters. Will let you all know how it goes. www.justgiving.com/2012MontBlanc
Jul 25, 2012 - Terra
Best of luck Jason! Get yourself some GurneyGoo ( www.pxtkayaks.com/categories/Health/ ) before you go, your feet will love you for it.
Jan 20, 2013 - Hikes for advice
I had a HUGE blister on my left foot; I was climbing a ladder and it popped and ripped.  Raw skin really hurts!!! Putting antiseptic on it helps soooooo much.
Feb 25, 2013 - Catherine
Hi, I'm doing the London to Brighton trek, 100k over 30 hrs.  No sleep. Been wearing my 1000 mile hiking sock which has a inner liner but find after a 10mile walk the hard skin on my feet go white and soft as if I've been n the bath for ages.  How can I prevent this, chg my socks after 8miles?
Feb 26, 2013 - Hiking Dude
Catherine - It sounds like your feet are sweating and the moisture can not escape your shoe.  Changing your socks is a good idea to try.  Take a couple extra pair and change them at 3 and 6 miles.
Or, look into changing shoes to something that breaths better - leather hiking boots don't let out moisture like mesh trail shoes.
Jul 20, 2013 - SIU_Avalanche
Thanks for the info!!  Just getting back into hiking with my son and Scouts - did 3.5 miles (25lb packs)with him yesterday and developed a blister on my heel.
What type of locations carry "moleskin"?
Jul 20, 2013 - Hiking Dude
@SIU - Pretty much any store with an outdoors section or first aid section has moleskin.  REI, Dick's, Target, Gander Mountain, Wal-mart.
I've found that moleskin, though adhesive, does not stick well by itself.  Covering it with a strip of medical tape or duct tape helps.
Jan 25, 2014 - ellie
zinc oxide tape is good for strapping up your feet before you set off as it reduces friction on your skin. I also find compeed great after a trek so your normal shoes dont rub.

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