Your Complete Guide to Blister Prevention and Treatment

Man with a blister on his heel lifting down his sock to reveal the raw red patch of rubbed skin.

Did you recently buy a new pair of shoes and can’t wait to break them in?

Those first few laps around the track or walk down the hall can feel like you’re on a cloud. Everything is great. Until the blisters come!

But getting blisters doesn’t have to be a given with new shoes. And even if you do get blisters, they don’t have to ruin your day.

It’s all about blister prevention and treatment.

So if you’re getting ready to tie up or strap on those new shoes, you’ll want to take a few precautions.

Ease into Those New Shoes

The key to blister prevention and treatment is understanding how blisters occur in the first place.

Irritations occur whenever your skin repeatedly rubs on clothing or another surface. This is called chafing. To prevent blisters, you need to prevent chafing.

There’s more than one way to prevent chafing and blisters. And you need an action plan:

1. Choose the Right Socks

When it comes to blister prevention, the right socks can have a huge impact.

They provide extra support for your feet, keep moisture away, and can minimize the friction that leads to chafing.

What are the best socks? Nylon socks allow for great breathability and very low moisture build-up on the foot. You might also consider socks made with a wool blend that wicks moisture away and keeps your feet dry.

Definitely, avoid cotton socks. Cotton is notorious for soaking up sweat and moisture, and holding it in. This is breeding grounds for blisters.

2. Two Might Be Better Than One

If wearing one pair of socks isn’t doing the trick, you could try wearing two pairs.

By doing this, the friction occurs between the two pairs of socks, rather than one pair of socks and your own skin. Chafing eliminated.

You just want to be sure that the socks aren’t so thick that your shoes become too tight.

3. Use Tapes and Bandages

Moleskin or other soft but secure bandages could be adhered to spots on the feet that are more prone to blisters. Whichever product you choose, it should be able to stay on sweaty feet.

4. Apply Powders and Creams

Spend a little time at your pharmacy looking over the various foot powders. Some are made to pour right into your socks to create a frictionless surface on your foot.

There are also options for preventative care. And there’s always Vaseline!

5. Be Sure the Shoe Fits Well

If your planning on using your new shoes for physical activity like running or doing Zumba, you may want to go to a specialty athletic shoe store to ensure that they’re the right fit for your specific foot type.

A specialist can perform a gait analysis to see if there’s something in the way you walk or run that could be causing blisters.

On the other hand, if your new shoes are multi-purpose, then just be sure they’re the right size. If you stand on your feet all day, your feet might be swollen by the end of the day.

Do your new shoes give your feet enough room to expand? Yet if they’re too big, there will be a better chance for friction and chafing.

Even with Prevention, You Might Still Get Blisters

That’s why this post covers blister prevention and treatment.

If you’re lucky, you might not get a full blister and only experience a brief sensation of heat. This is the beginning of a blister and it’s called a hot-spot.

Managing a hot-spot requires you to do the same steps described above in blister prevention. But you have to do it right away. Hot-spots point to places on your feet where blisters are more likely.

In some regards, they’re a gift. As long as you care for them early enough to avoid a full-on blister.

But if you do end up with a blister, it’s important to understand the condition of the blister.

There Are Different Treatment Methods for a Blister

How you treat the blister will depend on the state of the blister.

A. Blister Has Not Torn

This is the condition where your blister is still completely closed and looks like a bubble.

If you find the blister in this condition, you’ll need to dress your blister to keep it clean, then apply an island dressing. Island dressings have absorbent pads that won’t stick to your blister, and are surrounded by an adhesive.

This treatment is ideal if you’re in a situation where you don’t have to put your shoes back on immediately. But if you do have to put the shoes back on, this treatment will at least keep the blister clean in case it breaks.

B. Blister Roof Is Torn

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Apply antiseptic (like Betadine)
  • Dress your blister
  • Reduce pressure
  • Reduce friction
  • Monitor regularly for infection

If you discover that your blister has torn, then you’ll need to apply an antiseptic and then dress the blister in a way that keeps the roof in place. Again, an island dressing is used for this purpose.

You don’t want to stick anything to the blister or the roof could tear off completely when you remove it.

Also, don’t put on any shoes at this point. You need to reduce pressure and friction. And since the blister roof is compromised, you need to take measures to prevent infection.

Always do the following:

  • Disinfect your hands
  • Use a sterile dressing
  • Monitor for infection

Signs of infection including, pus, an increase in pain, swelling and redness, or red streaks extending from the blister. And if you experience red streaks extending from the blister, it is crucial you seek medical attention immediately.

C. Blister Completely Exposed

With a deroofed blister, the top has been completely torn off and has left a red raw sore.

Since the roof of the blister is gone, you don’t need an island dressing. In this case, a hydrocolloid dressing is your best bet.

Raw skin weeps as it heals and a hydrocolloid dressing provides the best environment for quick healing. Hydrocolloids should stay on the wound for a few days at a time, unless the weeping is excessive.

Hopefully, it doesn’t get to this point!

Blister Prevention and Treatment Make the Difference

Knowing these steps for blister prevention and treatment could mean the difference between breaking in those new shoes to show them off, and shoving them into the darkest corner of your closet.

So get out there and enjoy your new purchase.

And if you have any other tips for prevention or treatment of blisters, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below.