Developing sores and blisters on long walks and hikes is the fastest way to ruin any day of adventuring. There is good news and bad news about this – blisters are very hard to predict but they are very easy to prevent if you make the proper precautions. Many things could cause blisters on walks, hikes and climbs but another good thing about the environment you are in is that you are surrounded by nature and there are so many natural remedies that surround you.
What Causes Blisters and How To Prevent Them On Long Hikes
The main cause of blisters can be your own socks and shoes. Often campers and outdoor adventurers will buy new gear and equipment before a long excursion, like new jackets, hats, shirts and, most importantly, shoes. Buying new boots or hiking shoes right before an adventure is one of the biggest mistakes anyone could make. When your shoes aren’t worn in properly, the leather will still be stiff and resist against your foot and ankles, rubbing at the skin and causing blisters.
Another thing to try avoid for a long walk is thin socks. Your socks are your feet’s protection and when you compromise on the quality or thickness of your hiking socks – you are compromising the quality of your entire day and the wellbeing of your feet and ankles. When your socks aren’t thick enough they could let in a substantial amount of moisture, also being one of the major causes of blisters developing. Cotton socks are definitely not recommended as they lock in moisture and keeps it right up against the skin of your foot.
Wearing socks and shoes that offer the appropriate ventilation can also prevent the friction becoming inflamed and making blisters. Having shoes or socks that allow your feet to breathe will also automatically hold less moisture and lower your risk of blistering from that factor too.
Believe it or not, rubbing underarm roll on or stick deodorant on your feet and ankles can prevent them from being affected by friction caused by your boots or anything else that might have gotten into your shoes. This is due to the fact that not only does it provide a type of lubricant for the friction to slide right off, the antiperspirant properties of the deodorant is very good for locking out any moisture that might get in from outside and from your own sweat.
Lastly, it is important to try keep as much dirt out of your socks and shoes as you can – not only does it save your socks and help them last longer, it also prevents the dirt, bits of wood and tiny rocks from getting in between your skin and your shoes. The roughness and friction of this will definitely result in painful blisters that will surely ruin your day out.
10 Home Remedies For Blisters
After you have carefully popped and drained the blister, you can simply rinse it with some clean water and then bandage it with some salt or Epsom Salts (if you have it). This should completely disinfect the blister and help speed up the healing process of your skin.
It is no surprise that another very big remedy for blisters developed on long walks is Aloe. Like coconut oil, Aloe works for almost any minor injury and can be applied directly to the open or affected area. If you can find, slice and bandage a piece of raw aloe to the wound or blister – even better! Aloe’s anti-inflammatory properties will help calm the “heat” caused by the friction of whatever caused the blister.
Green tea bags
Green tea might not be something everyone takes with on a walk or hike but if you develop blisters while you’re out – it is a very good option for treating them when you get home. You can bandage or simply hold a soaked Green Tea bag against the blister for as long as you can. The anti-inflammatory properties will sooth the inflamed skin and help the healing process.
Apple cider vinegar
Sometimes we are so enchanted by our surroundings or so invested in getting to the summit of hike that we don’t even notice blisters until we go home and take our socks and shoes off. Popped blisters can lead to other bacteria potentially infecting the wound and causing much bigger problems. Your solution to this one is Apple Cider Vinegar. It might be a little painful as it is very acidic but the acidity is what provides the anti-bacterial qualities, amongst other compounds found in ACV. Of course, you can dilute it but then it might not be as effective as it would be when directly applied.
If you are planning a long excursion, make sure to start taking Vitamin E supplements about a week or two before so you have a rich supply in your system. Vitamin E is good for treating and preventing blisters from developing easily as it has powerful anti-scarring and skin cell repairing effects. Vitamin E oil will also help treat blister wounds and prevent it from leaving a big or noticeable mark.
Castor oil is an old and trusted natural home remedy that works for most things that involve the human body but is most effective for the treatment of blisters. Some people will even mix Castor Oil with Apple Cider Vinegar to speed up the healing process even more. This will help the blister stay disinfected and safe from outside bacteria as well as dry it up. You can achieve this by soaking a clean piece of material in either just castor oil or the mixture of castor oil and ACV and wrap it in a bandage overnight – by morning the blister should be dried up and almost fully healed.
Sometimes simply letting your blister get some air can help it heal faster. This doesn’t mean that you should just leave it open all the time but when you are home and in an environment with little bacteria, taking off your bandage and letting breathe is highly recommended. This will help the blister dry up and heal faster.
Diaper rash cream
If you are not a new parent and don’t just have diaper rash cream laying around, popping to the shops to get some might be a good idea before your walk. Diaper rash ointment contains zinc-oxides which will help prevent any further infection, lessen any inflammation and dry out the blister.
Toothpaste is a very accessible, very effective remedy for blisters as it is usually used for drying out things like pimples and sores. Many doctors say it is pretty pointless, though very effective, to use toothpaste for blisters as they will dry out in a day or two after that anyway and it doesn’t do much other than that. If your only goal is to only dry out your blister really quickly, it is suggested that you don’t use toothpaste with cinnamon in it as it can be known to irritate the skin.
Tea tree oil
A big favourite amongst homeopaths is tea tree oil. Also a very multi-purposed oil and can be very good for the skin but in this case, applying it to your blisters can kill and prevent any new bacteria from getting in – this will help the healing rate of your blisters as they won’t get re-infected by anything.
Dangers of Untreated Blisters
Though blisters themselves can’t cause any damage as it just a skin reaction to friction – it is important to remember that blisters are still open wounds and can let other bacteria in if not covered. Leaving blisters open or not cleaned can start cause infections like sepsis and cellulitis, these are fast and widely spreading skin infections that can become a call to the emergency room if they should spread to either your lymph nodes or bloodstream.
Some symptoms of infection may include:
- Warm in and around the blistered areas.
- Pus discharge from the blister, usually a yellow or greeny color.
- General pain around the blister.
- Redness, like a spider bite.
- Unusual swelling of the blister.
- Holes forming in the skin.
- Skin peeling off in large pieces or like dandruff.
- Low to absolutely no healing rate at all.
- If your blister starts bleeding when you touch it.
This can be a very painful experience and quite an effort to treat for the right amount of time. Taking anti-inflammatory medication for the pain will help to dull or numb it for a while but saving the time and effort and just preparing well can be way more beneficial.
Even the military knows that taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you should remember to do in the wilderness as they are what carries and enables you to do what you set out to do. Without taking good care of your feet, it is impossible to get the most out of your day of adventure and exploration.