Thanks to strappy sandals and sweaty toes, blisters can sometimes feel unavoidable during the summer months. Read on for some do’s and don’ts to survive the season blissfully free of foot pain.
DO: Understand why we get them in the first place. Jackie Sutera, MD, a spokesperson for the American Podiatrist Medical Association, points to two major factors: sweat and friction, which can cause layers of skin to rub together. When this happens, a space forms between the layers, and the body responds by filling it up with fluid. Hello throbbing blister.
DO: Combat moisture head-on. If you’re prone to sticky feet, use a powder like Gold Bond Triple Action Medicated Foot Powder ($9.79) to keep them dry. You should also skip regular gym socks while wearing sneakers, since cotton absorbs sweat and will stay damp all day. Instead, invest in a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks, like these ones from Brooks, which are specially formulated to keep your feet dry.
DON’T: Suffer for beauty. When it comes to footwear, avoid synthetics, nylons, and textured fabrics that will rub uncomfortably against your feet. Instead, look for shoes made out of a natural, breathable material like leather. Since feet tend to swell in the heat, try to wear open-toed shoes as much as possible. While those too-small flats may look cute, your angry red feet will not.
DO: Put a buffer between your bare skin and your shoes. There are a number of pads, cushions, and silicones on the market that will reduce friction in the areas that are particularly prone to rubbing. Dr. Sutera recommends the Band-Aid Active Friction Block Stick ($5.99), Blister Band-Aids ($4.49), and Foot Petals cushioning inserts ($6.95)
DON’T: Abuse flip-flop season. Although these ubiquitous summer sandals are okay to wear in moderation, don’t overdo it. Dr. Sutera believes that while “flip flops are the gold standard of summer shoes, many people don’t understand that they shouldn’t wear them all day, in every situation.” A quick trip to the grocery store? Yes. A full-day of walking around a city? No. Bottom line: wear them with care.
DO: Avoid tampering with a blister if you can help it. For a smaller blister, the best thing you can do is to let it heal naturally. If it’s not bothering you, simply cover the area with one of the adhesive bandages mentioned above, and let your body do its thing.
DON’T: Shy away from popping a larger blister…if you take the proper precautions. If a blister is bulging and uncomfortable, it’s okay to take matters into your own hands. Dr. Sutera recommends sterilizing a small safety pin with betadine, and gently piercing the blister to drain the fluid. Afterwards, dab it with antiseptic and pad around the area. Change the band-aids daily until the skin has healed.
DO: Call your doctor if the situation appears to be getting worse. While a blister in and of itself is harmless, the situation can escalate quickly if it becomes infected. If the blister is throbbing, swollen or filled with pus, you should seek medical attention.