There’s nothing like having a blister on your foot to remind you how hard your feet work for you every day. Blisters are painful, fluid-filled sacs of skin that form on many areas of the body, particularly the feet. An estimated 5.2 million people suffer from blisters on their feet each year.1 They are very common for athletes, especially runners, and occur more commonly in warmer weather.2
Is it possible to stop a blister from forming?
Yes, but first you should understand …
What Causes Blisters?
The most common cause of blisters is friction and pressure. On the feet, blisters usually form on the heels or toes. This occurs when an object, such as a too-tight shoe, rubs on your skin repeatedly, causing a layer of your skin to tear away from the tissue. The area between the skin and tissue fills with fluid, which can be a clear serum, blood, plasma or pus.3 The fluid is your body’s way of protecting the injury and encouraging healing.4 In the meantime, the area is usually sensitive and tender.
Sounds fun, right? Fortunately, there are some ways to avoid painful blisters forming on your feet. Here are some tips to try.
6 Ways to Avoid Blisters
1. Wear Shoes That Fit
Since most blisters are caused by friction, it makes sense to take the friction off your feet. Do this by wearing shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too small, or even too large, can cause blistering.5
On that note, did you know many people don’t know their true shoe size? A 2016 survey found that more than 60 percent of women have not had their feet measured in the last five years.6 Shoe retailer Allen Edmonds estimates that 80 percent of men are wearing the wrong size shoes.7 Even in adulthood, shoe sizes can change due to aging, pregnancy, and medical conditions.8 To ensure a good fit, have your feet professionally measured before you purchase shoes. Feet can swell during the day, so podiatrists recommend getting your feet measured in the afternoon or evening.9
2. Wear Comfortable Shoes
Some types of shoes may cause blisters even if they fit correctly. High heels, strappy sandals and shoes that are too narrow often cause blistering. Be sure to choose shoes that match the activity you plan on doing. For instance, don’t wear high heels for walking long distances. If you do have to wear uncomfortable shoes, try protecting blister-prone areas (like the sides of your heels and toes) with bandages.
3. Break in New Shoes
Before you wear your shoes for a marathon or a full day at the office, break them in slowly. Wear dress shoes around the house for short periods of time. For running, walking, or hiking shoes, set out on short treks while you’re breaking them in. If you notice your shoes are rubbing against certain areas of your feet, such as your heels and toes, use a bandage or extra padding in these areas.10
4. Keep Your Feet Dry
Moisture, such as sweat, increases your risk for blisters.11This is one of the reasons more blisters form in the summer. If you are prone to sweaty feet, try vented shoes or moisture-wicking socks. After bathing, the American Podiatric Medical Association recommends thoroughly drying your feet and applying cornstarch or foot powder to prevent moisture. They also recommend changing your socks several times per day. People with excessively sweaty feet may benefit by visiting a podiatrist.12
5. Don’t Skip Socks
Socks act as a barrier between your shoes and the skin of your feet. Take away that barrier, and blisters may occur. Wear socks whenever you wear shoes to prevent blistering. Thicker socks or athletic socks can help too. Socks specifically padded to prevent blisters have also shown to be effective. Padded socks made with acrylic fiber were found to be more effective at preventing blisters than those made with cotton.13
6. Use Paper Tape
Paper tape, also called surgical tape, is available over-the-counter in drug stores. A 2014 study published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that paper tape significantly reduced blisters for marathon runners.14 Simply apply the tape to areas of your feet that are prone to blisters for protection.
What to Do if You Get a Blister
Despite your best preventative measures, sometimes blisters can’t be helped. If you do get a blister, try to let it heal naturally. Popping a blister may lead to infection, so don’t do it, no matter how tempting it is.15 Keep your blister, and the area around it, clean. Cover the blister with a bandage as it heals, and try to wear shoes that don’t rub against the area. If your blister is very painful or you suspect it has become infected, contact your doctor.
Blisters are an irritating problem for many people. With a little common sense and these simple tips, you can suffer from fewer blisters.