During the warmer months of the year, it is particularly important that you air your feet and change your socks often during your trek. Blisters are not only caused by hard boots or a wrinkle in your sock. The closed environment in your boots is the perfect breeding ground for micro-organisms that decrease the resistance of your skin. Washing your feet regularly helps prevent blisters and there is also a lot more you can do to take care of your feet – even before you leave on your trek.
Before your trek
Break in your boots well and learn how they work on your feet. In particular, take note of where you usually get blisters, which is often visible as a small red area. Remember this so you will be able to prevent future blisters.
A few weeks before you leave, make sure that you do not have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is characterised by flaking skin, often between the toes but also elsewhere on the foot. It can be easily treated with cream from the pharmacist.
Wash your feet and sand down calluses. Clip your toenails, but make sure that the toenail on your big toes is straight to avoid ingrown toenails. Massage your feet with cream to soften the skin.
When leaving for your trek
If you know that you usually get blisters, tape any sensitive areas before leaving on your trek. Elastoplast is flexible and fits comfortably. Stretch the tape slightly before you apply it and tape diagonally under the foot and a bit up on the sides, but leave around 2 cm between the ends. If needed, heat the tape with your hands so it will stick better.
Sports tape and other types of non-elastic tape are not as practical since they can often wrinkle, which contributes to the problem.
While on your trek
Air your feet when you take a break. Change your socks at least once a day and if they get wet. If you feel that a blister is starting to form, stop immediately and tape the area that hurts or where the skin is red. Apply a double layer of Elastoplast, following the instructions above. Tape the heel first in the back and then horizontally out to the side of the foot with one or a few pieces of tape. Then attach a piece of tape from underneath upwards, overlapping the first pieces of tape.
If you get a blister
There are different theories about how to handle a blister, but there is one proven method:
- Puncture the blister as close to the healthy skin as possible, preferably in two places. Use a small pair of sharp scissors and cut a small V in the blister.
- Rinse and wash with drinking water or cleaning solution for sores (you can buy handy disposable cleaning pads for sores at the pharmacist). Dry your foot thoroughly.
- Large blisters filled with fluid can be covered with a Compeed bandage. Make sure that the Compeed is secure and clip away any wrinkles (for example if you wrap one around a toe) with scissors.
- Cover with one-two layers of Elastoplast as described above. Carefully put your socks on so you do not pull up the edges of the tape.
- Avoid removing the tape or attempting to change the bandage. Trim away loosened tape edges with a pair of scissors and reinforce with an additional layer of tape.
Massage at night
Wash your feet every night before climbing into your sleeping bag (at the same time as you take care of other personal hygiene needs). Add skin cream as well and rub it in using small circular motions for approximately five minutes. In addition to softening up the skin and tired muscles, this massage also improves circulation and makes it easier for your feet to withstand another day on the trail.