|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – September 2005
Catch the hot spot before it's too late
» Good advice is worth repeating: The best way to prevent blisters is to wear boots that fit-with room to move your toes and without heel slippage.
» Wear wool or synthetic socks (read: not cotton) that wick away moisture. Or try a silk or polypro liner under a hiking sock so that friction occurs between sock layers instead of against your skin.
» Trade down to lighter boots. Many of today's high-tech low-tops have enough sole support to handle 40-pound loads, but flexible uppers that are gentler on your feet.
» That said, don't skip the break-in. It's still wise to wear new shoes around the house and on dayhikes before a multiday trip.
» Run interference on hot spots. As soon as you feel a burning sensation, cover the spot with moleskin or duct tape.
» Pop a blister before it breaks inside your sweaty, dirty sock. Clean the area, then pierce the roof of the blister with a sterile needle and massage out the fluid. Keep the roof intact to protect the skin underneath.
» Cut a hole in a piece of moleskin or foam just larger than the blister. Apply antibiotic ointment, then tincture of benzoin on the clean, dry skin around the blister; this common antiseptic boosts the stickiness of tape and bandages. Wait 15 seconds, then affix the moleskin donut so the hole creates a pressure-free pocket around the sore. Apply a second layer as needed to keep direct pressure off the blister. Seal with a "lid" of moleskin, and cover the entire patch with duct or athletic tape.
» Keep a bandage in place for up to 3 days, then wash and retape. If the area is red, swollen, or leaking pus, it's infected. Keep it dressed; if the infection persists for more than a few days, see a doctor.