Clean and dry feet thoroughly, then coat each blister-prone area with tincture of benzoin (see "Stick-to-it-iveness"). Let feet dry for 3 minutes, spreading apart any toes that were treated.
Apply a thin layer of lubricant over all sticky areas. Try Vaseline, Sportslick, Bodyglide, or a silicone cream like Hydropel or Avon's Silicone Glove. In a pinch, use cooking oil.
Wear a sock liner to prevent your wool or synthetic socks from getting slimy.
Change your socks and reapply the lubricant every 4 to 6 hours. Be sure to wipe any grit from your feet before applying another coat.
Recommended by John Vonhof
Pop and drain a heel blister (see "Should You Pop?" ).
Apply antiseptic cream directly to the blister and a layer of tincture of benzoin around the wound to help the dressing adhere.
Cut a circular piece of moleskin, Molefoam, or your covering of choice
1/2-inch bigger than the blister. Cut a hole slightly larger than the blister in the middle of the covering and place the "doughnut" over the blister to create a pressure-free pocket around the sore.
Cover the entire doughnut with a second piece of moleskin, then secure it with duct tape. Run tape strips along the sides of your foot toward your toes, then secure the ends with a few loops around the instep.
Recommended by Buck Tilton, Backpacker contributing editor and author of Medicine for the Backcountry.
Tincture of benzoin, a balsamic tree resin, has antiseptic, aromatic, and adhesive properties. It can be found in many forms-impregnated in cotton swabs, in small vials as a liquid, and as a spray-at drugstores and medical supply houses. Keep a little benzoin in your first-aid kit and use it to:
Augment the stickiness of any blister treatment. Just apply it to your foot, let it dry until tacky (a few minutes), then affix your dressing of choice.
Protect your skin from friction. When applied to unblistered skin, tincture of benzoin dries to a hardened shield, like a second layer of toughened-up skin.
Seal an existing blister as a last resort.
The brave men and women who serve in our military, hiking with heavy loads for days at a time, also serve as guinea pigs for blister research. Here's what they've discovered:
n Antiperspirant applied to feet reduced sweating, but it didn't prevent blisters. In some cases, it even increased irritation.
Those who jogged regularly were less likely to get blisters on a 10-kilometer (6.5-mile) hike.
The sock-and-liner method worked best if the outer sock maintained its loft (and thus its cushion) when saturated.
Soldiers using foot powder had a higher incidence of blisters than those not using it. Once saturated, the powder clumps and abrades feet.
Cadets who wore their boots for a total of at least 20 hours in the 2 weeks prior to maneuvers had fewer blisters.