As temperatures climb and we enter the season of exposed feet, we’re here to help, with all the best tricks for keeping your feet presentable, as well as comfortable. While this week happens to be the start of Fleet Week, we’re doing our own take as summer begins. Welcome to Feet Week on the Strategist.
In our new advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please comment with one of your own — we’re here to help.
Question: What are the best ways to prevent and heal blisters?
My personal favorite blister-related item is the amazing Advanced Healing Blister Band-Aid. They’re transparent, so more discreet than what you’d typically find in a Band-Aid, and they’re also more padded, so you don’t even feel your shoe bumping up against the blister with this extra cushiony layer. The only problem, seriously, is that too few come in a box. I find myself finishing them so quickly. But I only wear these once I’ve already developed a blister, so I reached out to some podiatrists to learn how to prevent blisters in the first place.
Dr. Lori Weisenfeld, D.P.M., a New York City sports podiatrist, explained how blisters start: friction. “So preventing a blister is all about preventing that friction from happening in the first place,” says Dr. Weisenfeld, who sees the most blisters at the start of sandal season (beware!). Her first solution is moleskin (not the notebook), which is a product that’s similar to a Band-Aid, but the entire inner-facing part is an adhesive. Once you start feeling friction, say, the day you put on those new strappy sandals for the first time this season, you can just put a little piece of moleskin over the irritated part to prevent any future blisters. You can also put this on in a place you anticipate a future of friction.
There are also gel products, Dr. Weisenfeld says, that go over the toes to prevent blisters. If you typically get blisters on the top of your toes, ProFoot makes a toe pouch (sounds adorable, tbh) filled with a visco gel that you wear over your toes and in your shoes, kind of like a sock, that hides comfortably within a closed-toed mule or ballet flat. ProFoot also makes individual toe protectors in different shapes and sizes that you can slip on over any problem toes for 360 degrees of protection.
Lastly, for runners who typically get blisters in between their toes, Dr. Weisenfeld recommends rubbing Vaseline between each toe to keep them from chafing, and even, if need be, using toe socks, specifically a brand called Injinji, that’ll wick away sweat and prevent friction-causing moisture. You’ll also want to avoid any socks that are 100 percent cotton or wool, which hold on to moisture and create a sticky situation.
All of that is just for preventing blisters, though. For everyone else who’s too behind to stop them from happening, Dr. Jonathan Thurm of Tower Podiatry says that you’re never supposed to pop a blister from the top. The roof of the blister is your body’s own protective Band-Aid. Instead, you cure a blister by popping it from the side, the place exactly where your healthy skin turns into the blister itself, and letting the bubble deflate. Then you cover that with an antibiotic ointment and a gauze pad, not a Band-Aid because using a sticky Band-Aid risks tearing off the roof of the blister, which we need to help the body heal. (He also suggests baby powder as a way to prevent moisture and friction to begin with.)
And if you have a favorite pair of shoes that keep giving you a blister, but you just love them so much you can’t stop, Dr. Thurm has one last tip: “Take it to a shoemaker and have him press out the area. He can stretch the shoe in the irritating spot and that usually takes care of it.”
We’d love to hear from you. If you have any burning questions, please leave them for us in the comments.
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