How to Treat Hiking Blisters

6 min read
How to Treat Hiking Blisters How to Treat Hiking Blisters How to Treat Hiking Blisters

Hiking in the great outdoors is a beautiful, nourishing, and all-around positive experience. You’re in the wild, surrounded by the elements, breathing in the fresh open air and getting a workout all at once. You simply cannot beat it.

Until you get blisters on your feet.

As avid hikers know, what should be a perfect day on the trail can soon take a turn for the worse when these pesky fluid pockets start to form. Sore, uncomfortable, and unavoidably wince-worthy, bad blisters make every step an ordeal. That’s why it’s so useful to know how to treat hiking blisters when they develop.

Doing it right can salvage the day, stopping the situation from getting any worse and alleviating the pain they cause in the process.

Why Do You Get Blisters When Hiking?

Before we delve into the treatment and prevention side of things, it may help to understand why you get hiking blisters in the first place. After all, knowing the cause of any problem is always key to finding the solution to it.

Blisters form for different reasons, but they’re usually a product of heat, moisture, and rubbing. Indeed, the name given to this particular type of blister is a “friction blister”. Things like sweaty feet and loose-fitting socks, or wet feet following a river crossing, lead to rubbing. Over time, the pressure and friction caused will lead to blisters forming on the affected area(s).

Another common risk factor for hikers is wearing boots or shoes that haven’t been broken in. Any tight areas will rub against your skin and eventually cause trouble.

While some of these factors may be unavoidable – such as sweating when you’re hiking – there are other blister causes that you can do something about.

How to Avoid Getting Blisters When Hiking

Now you know why you get them, let’s turn to how you can stop them from forming. If you’ve been wondering how to prevent hiking blisters, then the following suggestions are guaranteed to help.

Choose Boots That Suit Your Feet

Not all hiking shoes and boots are made equal. Rule number one of preventing blisters on a hike is to wear a pair that’s well-suited to your specific feet. Make sure they fit perfectly (i.e. no scrunched toes or excess room at the top) and offer equal parts comfort and support.

Lace Your Boots Up Properly

Some people are surprised to learn that the way you lace your boots makes a difference as well. Stomping your feet to get the heel as far back inside as possible and tying what’s called a surgeon’s knot will help. Here’s a video showing you how to do it.

Wear Your Boots In

Never hit the trail for any length of time wearing a brand new, never-before-worn pair of boots. Always break them in by wearing them around the house, yard, or local area first.

Wear Moisture-Wicking Socks

The socks you wear on a hike are crucial too. Make sure they’re moisture-wicking and quick-drying if you want to avoid excessive rubbing.

You can’t go wrong with a pair of merino wool socks, which do both by virtue of the material. Find some with extra padding around the heel and you’re onto a winner.

Change Your Socks

Even the best socks in the world won’t prevent hiking blisters if you never change them though. Try putting on a new pair every time the ones you’re wearing become too damp.

Air Everything Out

If damp feet are a recipe for trouble, then dry feet are the opposite. That’s why it’s important to air out your boots, socks, and shoes at every opportunity.

Whether that’s as you stop for lunch or when you arrive at the campsite, giving everything a chance to cool down and dry off is always a good idea. Applying talcum powder to your feet can help for the same reason.

Apply Tape/Plasters to Hotspots

Putting a blister plaster or blister tape over areas that are prone to blisters, such as your heels, will help protect the skin from rubbing too. But don’t wait for problems to arise before applying them: the best approach is to cover these parts of your feet at the very start of any hike.

How to Treat Hiking Blisters the Correct Way

Has a blister formed on your feet despite your best efforts? Here are some top tips on how to treat hiking blisters.

What to Do

Stop, remove your shoes and socks, and assess the damage. If the blister is big, painful, fully formed and turning the hike into a nightmare, some may insist that you pop it. However, this raises your risk of infection – and it’s never too late to apply a blister plaster. In general, we do not recommend popping blisters, as they form as a means to protect your skin against infection.

Remember These Hiking Blister Care Tips

There you have it, then: how to treat hiking blisters and how to prevent them from occurring in the first place. We hope the insights in this article will help protect your feet and stop these painful problems from ruining your time on the trail.

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