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Anupama Pradeep

How To Deal With Blisters While Hiking

The hikers, runners, athletes and all will tape their feet to offer blister protection. If the socks liners are too good in preventing the formation of blisters, then what will you really do when there is a hot spot formation? There are chances for the blisters to form after a hike. Many times you need to move on with it for several miles. This is one of the super common issues which have got an easy fix.

First, let me make you understand how a hotspot differs from a bubble blister. Hot spots are the first thing which comes before a blister comes and is due to the initial sign of the friction. Let us consider this as Phase 1 in the process of blister formation. Then the bubble blister is Phase 2 and this is formed when the hotspot is completely turned into a mature blister. However, the management of every phase is different.

If you are having a bubble blister, then you will have to drain it fully and then treat it. If not, the hotspots require some barrier for preventing the friction from further aggravation. There are wide ranges of techniques which the hikers adopt for acting as a barrier such as using moleskin, duct tape, leukotape etc. However, the moleskin and the duct tape will not be good to be used on sweaty or wet surfaces. In fact, they are not skin friendly and there will be a need to replace it frequently.

Root Cause of Blisters

Moisture, together with the heat and friction will lead to the formation of blisters. The friction will cause inflammation on your skin which will guard by its own by properly filling with the fluid or even at times with blood. This, in turn, will help in the development of a kind-of cushion effect and will maintain the skin beneath.

First Aid foot blisters

How to Prevent Blister Formation While Hiking?

Choose the Right Boots or Shoes

Try to choose the lightest hiking shoe or boots which is right for the terrain which you hike. If you are hiking on a relatively flat surface, then there is no point in paying for a heavy mountain boots and spoiling the fun. However, if you are preparing to hike on a snowy peak, then go for a warm boot. If possible, wear them frequently around the house or while you go to shops for getting used to it.

Pick the Right Pair of Socks

Choose a good liner sock. Say a big no to cotton socks as they will absorb the moisture content and makes your feet horrible sweaty within no time. So leave it at home itself and pick some of the best hiking socks around. Knowing more about the socks liners will help you out in this process of selection. The liner socks will be constructed using synthetic materials which are worn beneath the wool sock. They are breathable, light in weight and are having a good wicking property, thus keeping your feet dry.

Lace Up Your Boots

You should not tie your laces too lose or too tight. Make sure that you lace up without cutting down the circulation, particularly those models of boots which are having ankle support. Loose laces mean that your foot moves around more in the boot, creating needless friction.

Wet Weather Hiking

If you are planning to hike during wet conditions or you need to cross any rivers, then you should be extra vigilant. When the feet are wet, the skin will pick up the moisture and will result in pruning or maceration (which is usually caused while you spend a whole day in swimming pool). As a result, the skin will be softened and will be more prone to the blister formation. In addition to this, there are high chances for the natural oils of the skin to get depleted, leading to painful cracks.

Foot Blister
A hiker is inspecting a foot blister.

What is a Blister Tape or Leukotape?

The Leukotape is a type of rayon-backed rehabilitation tape which is having very good tensile strength. The leukoplast sports tape comes in a roll. Initially, this tape was developed as rehabilitation tape and also the purpose of injury prevention and later on was utilized for managing as well as providing stability for the injured joints and muscles.

What Is Leukotape Used For?

The Leukotape is mainly used for the prevention of blisters. The zinc oxide glue which is present in the tape will make sure that when once it is wrapped on to the skin, it will remain in position for several hours, even when the person is moving. It gives the best stability for the joints even without affecting the motion and the circulation. The fabric which is used for the making of the tape is breathable and has got a good pressure sensitive stability. This is now considered as the wonder foot take among the ultralight runners and the hikers.

Major Features of Leukotape P Sports Tape

  • Has Natural Rubber Latex
  • Patellofemoral rigid strapping tape
  • Offers better comfort and a gentle support
  • Provides compression

Unlike any other type of bandage, the Leukotape is having various advantages:

  • It protects the surface of the skin from the after-effects of continuous rubbing
  • Provides thermal insulation and minimizes friction levels
  • Made up of 100 percent cotton and hence breathable
  • It is thin in nature and is smooth, permitting the skin to breathe well
  • Extremely skin friendly
  • The tape is dirt free and is water repellent with high tensile strength
  • Easy to tear without the use of any scissors lengthwise or crosswise
  • Can be shaped based on the curve of your toes or foot
  • Sticking ability will retain even in hot and cold conditions
  • It is affordable

How to Use the Leukotape?

Make sure that the foot is clean and dry. In order to secure the sticking for long hours, apply some benzoin tincture. Now you can put the strips of the Leukotape above the blister susceptible area. You can even apply it to the upper area too for making sure that there won’t be any gaps or creases for avoiding friction. Remember that you should never circle your foot completely as there are chances for the blood supply to constrict.Leukotape

On the other hand, if needed to cover the entire foot, then bend it pointing upwards and then begin with wrapping from the base of the heel and then your way up and stop it just before the toes with overlapping strips of the tape.

You can include small strips for the toes and after that add a longer strip from inside portion of the foot right towards outside. After you wear your sock and shoe, make sure that the tape is not too tight or lose. You can even dust the tape with powder so that it won’t stick to the socks.

Since Leukotape is bulky in nature and is a bit expensive, there are many people who go for moleskin as well for blister prevention.

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The Moleskine Donut MagicMoleskin

If a blister is developed and is really painful, the next step you can do is to take out the moleskin and cut it in the shape of “O”. This shape will help to cover the actual blister correctly. Instead of covering it again with another piece of moleskin, you can even use Leukotape. This technique is found to be more effective if the blister is somewhere around the toes. So don’t forget to pack your moleskin hiking kit whenever you plan your outdoor adventure.


Pros of Using Moleskin

  • Guard your foot against the friction produced by the shoe
  • Moleskin is worth  the amount your pay
  • Since it has a thin design, it conforms to your foot and fits in every shoe
  • Stay for a whole day
  • It is cuttable and hence can be shaped according to the size of the blisters

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Another leukotape alternative is the fixomull tape.

Fixomull tape

The Fixomull uses are of wide range since it is the best adhesive tape which will keep the moisture away and won’t let it come in. It is good and the most recommended one for taping on your hotspots and hence is used by all most all the hikers and the blister aware walkers.Fixomull

If ever you feel a hotspot while walking, then stop for a while and put some Fixomull and then continue walking. This will prevent the blister formation if you could know it earlier itself. Use the tape before every hike with a decent length so that you will be back home safe. It is available at most of the pharmacy. Even though there are many brands of this product available, the genuine one is always the best and the most recommended one.

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Things to Keep In Your Pack!!!

  1. Hiker’s Goo or Vaseline
  2. Leukotape 
  3. Fixomull
  4. Blister Plasters
  5. Dressings and antiseptic or antibiotic ointment
  6. Moleskin
  7. Spare socks

Foot Note!!!

Nothing spoils the fun of hiking than when you take off your socks and see a blister on your foot or heels. On multi-day hikes, the formation of blisters will make the hiking experience painful and miserable.

The leukotape can well stay on the foot for a day. The recommended time is however 18 hours. If you don’t want to take the big roll of tape with you in the backpack, then wrap a portion of it around the hollowed out and also cut-in-half writing pen or even in the lighter. Another way is to cut it into strips and place them on a plastic-based film sheet.

Some of the suggested tapes may include Leukotape K and BSN Leukotape P. Happy feet, happy hiking!!!

Image credit: amazon.com

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bandage, blisters, boots, hiking, leukotape, moleskin, outdoor ad, shoes, socks, top 10 review

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