I recently wore a new pair of flip-flops to Sea World®. It was a hot day and my niece, who was visiting, wanted to see all 200 acres of the park. By the time we were ready to walk (miles) back to the car, I was hobbling from blisters on my feet.
Foot blisters can be a minor inconvenience or can keep you from walking, hiking, running, and otherwise enjoying your summer vacation. If you are in a remote area camping or if you have a medial condition like diabetes, they can be quite serious. So what can you do to avoid them?
- Wear socks that minimize friction and moisture. Blisters form when moisture builds up and your feet slide, causing friction. A study done by biological engineering students at the University of Missouri-Columbia tested ten popular brands of socks and found that the material they are made from is a major determinant of whether feet will develop blisters. They found that cotton socks held moisture and were the worst for blisters while nylon socks wicked moisture away and were the best. Higher priced socks did not test any better than the inexpensive brands.
- Wear quality, well fitted sandals or flip-flops. Poorly made or ill-fitting sandals or flip-flops allow your foot to roll inward, causing the strap to cut across your foot and creating a blister on the arch behind the bunion bone.
- Use moleskin, a soft, felt material, that can be stuck on the inside of shoes or a strap, to protect your skin. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline®) or Aquaphor® can also serve as lubricants beneath hard leather straps.
If you do develop a blister, resist the (powerful) urge to pop it. The dead skin and fluid provide a sterile dressing for the underlying wound. If the blister does break, then do not remove the layer of skin covering the blister. This can lead to more pain and possibly infection, which will certainly ruin your vacation. Just keep it clean, cover it with a Band-Aid®, and leave it alone.
And if you go to Sea World® with your niece, wear sneakers.
Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD. You might also like:
Photo credit: Laura Hamilton