Blisters when Hiking: Prevention and Treatment

Slowing down while hiking due to blisters? Well, blisters are very normal to appear while running or jumping around. Blisters are a type of bubbles which pop up when fluids gather under the top layer of your skin in a pocket. They sometimes can get very painful for you. So acknowledging yourself with the treatment and prevention of blisters is beneficial to know. This article will guide you through everything about blisters when hiking and also prevention and treatment.

Types of Blisters

Mainly blisters can be classified into three main categories. Such as-

  • Friction blisters.
  • Blood blisters.
  • Heat blisters.

There are also other types of blisters but they are named after the conditions they are linked to. Such as-

  • Atopic eczema blisters.
  • Shingles blisters.
  • Chicken pox.

After knowing the types of blisters, one needs to know how it forms. So let’s look into it

How Blisters form

Blisters form when skin is usually damaged by friction or by rubbing and also through heat, cold or any chemical exposure.

  • Friction or rubbing
    Friction blisters are caused when a part of skin is repeatedly rubbed against another object.

Friction blisters are one common type of blisters. They usually form on the palm, soles, side of the feets and toes. Friction blisters are common in hiking. A common way to get a friction blister while hiking is from your sock or shoe rubbing against the skin of your feet. It can also appear if you are holding any pole or backpack on your hand for a long time.

The shoe that you are wearing while hiking may either be too loose or too tight and the main causes are likely the sweaty or wet feet which causes the blisters.

  • Blood Blisters
    Blood blister is a type of blister which forms when blood vessels or subdermal tissues get damaged without probing the skin. Mostly a blood blister consists of blood, pool of lymph or other body fluids.

These blisters are rare in hiking. They only appear when a part of your body gets injured. That is why it is one of the rarest types of blood blisters in hiking or backpacking.

  • Heat Blisters
    Heat blisters are also known as treat or burn blisters. They are fluid-filled blisters that may form as a result of burn issues.

    Heat blisters don’t appear while hiking. There is a slight chance of it to appear though. If you get yourself a burn, accidentally then heat blisters will appear.

These are the common type of blisters which more or less appear while hiking.

Blisters prevention

While we frequently consider blisters on our feet, these painful skin irritations can occur anywhere on the body where body parts rub together or rub against clothing . To prevent them before they appear, pay attention to your skin and take precautions if  you realize you will do a ton of strolling, running or other physical activity.

To prevent blisters, you can follow these guidelines:

➢     Ensure your boots fit and are broken in appropriately: Wear well-fitted and comfortable footwear.To avoid pressure points, slippage or both, the inspiration of blister prevention is getting the proper fit once you buy your boots.
➢     Wear proper socks: When hiking,  the main guideline is to keep away from cotton,  which retains moisture.Go with synthetic or wool instead and ensure they fit


➢     Blister bandages with pads and gels: Applying tape, padding or trouble spots can help prevent blisters from appearing.
➢     Wear liner socks: These add a protective layer between skin and  your primary hiking socks and may help wick away moisture.Double socks can perform an equivalent function.
➢     Apply powder or petroleum jelly to pain points: This helps reduce friction when your skin rubs.
➢     Change to dry socks: New socks get your feet back to a similar low dampness level you had toward the start of your climb.They will also be available handy if your socks get soaked during a stream crossing.

Signs and Symptoms of Blisters

Blisters usually pop up on palms of hands or soles of feets. But when it comes to hiking, they are mostly seen on soles of feet or on the side of feet.
Depending on the extremity as well as on what stage the blister is on, the appearance may vary.

  • Early stage blisters: The affected area on the skin gets red, such as on the heel, the instep, toes or palms.
  • Middle stage blister: The affected area structures into an air-pocket like swelling under the skin.
  • Moderate or severe, middle stage blisters: The affected area forms like a bubble like swelling and maybe quite large. Infected blisters look red around the corner and the fluid in it is mostly pus-like or red. Moreover, infected blisters are painful.
  • Last stage: When the blister heals, the skin gets dry and typically falls off naturally, leaving healthy skin underneath.


Blisters treatment

Most blisters will heal without medical intervention.Because the new skin grows beneath the blister, the fluid will slowly disappear and therefore the skin will naturally dry and peel off.

➢     Cover the blister: Loosely cover the blister with a bandage .Usher in the edges of the bandage in order that the center of the bandage may be a little raised.
➢     Avoid popping or draining a blister: Popping blisters isn’t recommended, because the bubble may be a protective layer that fends off infection.
➢     Use padding: To protect blisters in pressure areas, like the rock bottom of your feet, use padding.
➢     Keep the area clean:once your blister has drained, wash the area with soap and water and apply petroleum jelly, don’t remove the roof of the blisters, as this may protect the raw skin underneath because it heals.

Draining a Blister

Professionals often recommend you not to pop a blister. But if the situation gets beyond control then you may proceed to pop a blister. But before that you need to take some necessary steps. For instance-

  • You need to wash your hand at first with soap or anything you have around you.
  • Sweep the blister with iodine (if available).
  • Sterilize a clean, sharp needle with rubbing alcohol or heat it if rubbing alcohol is not available.
  • Use the needle to puncture the blister.
  • Apply an ointment.
  • Follow-up care.

 Now you know everything about blisters, how they form, blisters when hiking. Their prevention and treatment and also their types. Hopefully you can get over this problem and hike with pace. So no more slowing down due to blisters when hiking.


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