Blisters may be small, but they can cause pain out of all proportion to their size. These fluid-filled bubbles are the body’s way of dealing with too much friction on an area of skin. They’re formed when the damaged skin detaches from the underlying layers, and fluid known as serum fills the space beneath the skin.
Most blisters take from three to seven days to heal, and don’t need medical attention. If you suffer from diabetes, healing may not be so straightforward, so do seek medical advice.
Summer sees more blisters on our feet because they form more easily when the skin is sweaty, and in warm conditions. And, of course, bare feet are more at risk from rubbing by straps and seams.
Get your shoes sorted
Avoid synthetic materials and patent leather and go for leather or fabric as these allow feet to breathe.
Give new shoes a trial run (or walk) before wearing them for a whole day. Dave Wein, Podiatrist from Carnation Footcare, says: ‘Even the most comfortable of shoes need to be broken in. Try wearing them round the house for a while, to make sure you can see where they might rub before embarking on a mammoth trek!’
If new shoes or sandals are a bit tight, try this hairdryer trick. Put on two pairs of socks, then your shoes. Direct a low heat from your hairdryer onto the area that’s too close a fit, until it feels warm. Switch off and walk around for a few moments until the leather has cooled. Now try them on without the socks and you should find they’ve eased. Repeat the socks and hairdryer treatment until the shoes fit.
Keep feet dry
Control sweaty feet if you’re wearing summer shoes or trainers without socks or tights. Spray feet with Scholl Fresh Step 24 Hour Care Antiperspirant (150ml, £4) which stops sweating and also neutralises any odour, or Boots Pharmaceuticals Anti-Perspirant Foot Spray (150ml, £3.29).
Sprinkle Boots Pharmaceuticals Super Absorbent Foot Powder (75g, £3.75) in your shoes to absorb and deodorise perspiration.
Reduce the risk of rubbing
Cherry Blossom’s Silky Fresh Feet (100ml, £3.99) is an anti-friction spray containing real silk. Spray on feet for a fresh, dry feel, and less rubbing.
If you know from bitter experience that a particular pair of sandals might give you blisters, protect the at-risk area with Scholl Party Feet Invisible Gel Sore Spots (£11.38): six tiny dots of transparent visco-elastic polymer gel cushioning to stick discreetly and securely in your shoes where needed.
Be on the safe side with a slick from an anti-blister stick. The invisible, non-staining, non-greasy formulation stays in place on the skin and enables straps and seams to glide over your skin as you walk. Try Boots Pharmaceuticals Anti Blister Stick (£3.79) or Compeed Anti Blister Stick (£4.25).
Care and repair
The warning sign that a blister could be coming is a ‘hot spot’, a sore, reddened area due to rubbing. So pop on a plaster, if possible. And there’s no need for ‘flesh-coloured’ plasticky plasters protruding from your sandals. Invisible gel plasters now exist for every blister-prone area from toes to heels. Some are designed to prevent blisters; some protect existing blisters; and some do both.
Protect your heels with Scholl Party Feet Invisible Gel Heel Shields (£5.20), invisible gel strips to apply to the back of your heels.
Almost invisible, FastAid Advanced Fabulous Feet Blister Plasters (pack of three large and two medium, £3.84) are cooling hydrogel pads that cushion and protect the skin, helping prevent blisters from forming.
Thin and transparent, Scholl Blister Shield Plasters (£3.79) come in a useful, be-prepared pack containing two large, two small and one toe, to provide instant pain relief and waterproof, breathable cushioning.
Acting like a second skin, Boots Pharmaceuticals Blister Plasters (pack of five, £2.99) cushion the area to help prevent friction. The plasters are waterproof, repel bacteria, stay in place and relieve pain instantly.
It might be tempting, but don’t burst a blister, because it could lead to an infection or slow down healing. If it bursts, the raw skin revealed is extremely tender. Podiatrist Beverley Ashdown advises: ‘Clean it with mild, soapy water, soak in a salt-water foot bath for 10 minutes and cover with a protective patch such as Compeed.’ A five-pack of Compeed Blister Plasters (£4.25) has one toe plaster, two for heels, and one all-purpose, using hydro-colloidal technology to sped wound healing, and keep you comfortable.