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Blister prevention and care

Blisters are a quick route to a painful trip. They form fast and hurt bad, but there are quite a few preventative steps you can take to prevent. When prevention fails, and it will, treatment prevails. Let this be your guide to prevention first, and then a tool kit for when blisters hobble you or one of your party.



*What is a blister?*

A blister is a separation of the thick outer layer of skin from the softer inner layer. With new or ill-fitting shoes, socks, or just overuse and a few wrong turns, excessive rubbing can occur. The rubbing moves the more rigid outer skin, and the inner softer skin is held firm by the soft tissue underneath, creating a battle of movement. Eventually, the outer layer breaks free and separates from the underlayer, it quickly fills with fluid, and a blister is born. A short few hours of walking can cause this unfortunate outcome.


*What are the signs?*

Be aware of your feet when you head out. Blisters will form when your feet are moving independently of the boot or shoe. Be mindful of this. Tight spots on foot, or a sock seam, that focus pressure on your foot plus a little motion in that area, and a blister will undoubtedly form. The first sign of a blister is a focused sharpness or tingling in one or more places on the feet. Be aware and attentive. If you feel this, immediately stop and inspect the area. Visual cues will be reddening of the skin in the irritated area.


*Catching it early*

If you are lucky enough to catch the hotpot before the blister forms, there are a few steps to take to prevent further worsening. First, clean the area, change your socks, and try to move the pressure points. Lastly, cover the area with duct tape. Duct tape will form a barrier, other than your skin, between you and the problem area. It isn’t ideal, but it may just work.


*Treating a blister*

Once the skin has separated, there is little to be done. A blister will grow quite quickly as the separation develops fluid and balloons out. It is important not to soldier on at this point. Stop and take care of yourself, or make it much worse. You do not want the blister to pop on its own.

1. Clean the area with antiseptic wipes or disinfectants.

2. Use a safety pin or needle and saber the skin at the pouch's bottom—massage from the top down to drain any fluid.

3. Cut a patch of moleskin approximately half to three-quarters of an inch larger on each side than the blister. Cut a circle in the center roughly a quarter-inch larger than the blister area.

4. Apply the moleskin around the blister so that the hole in the center will prevent any further rubbing.

5. Cut another patch of moleskin to act as a roof over the affected area.

6. Lastly, apply a layer of duct tape over the patch to further protect the area.


After you have treated and protected the area, you're ready to carry on. The extra thickness will move your foot around in your shoes, so be attentive that new hotspots don’t form.


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