Blisters – I learnt the hard way!


What is that?

Using your phone to connect a laptop to the internet?

I had no idea what a hot spot was until I started guiding. If only I had known when I set out for my first long distance hike on the 223km Larapinta Trail, I could have avoided limping the last 120km's.

I kept a diary and looking back I can see the moment I had a “hotspot”

“...the middle of my right foot has started giving me grief, feeling hot and like I have a rock stuck in there. I have taken my shoe and sock off twice but there was nothing inside."


Unfortunately in addition to my lack of knowledge about blisters, I had an inadequate first aid kit to treat them. Note to self – a poncho and paw paw ointment won’t help your feet.

Let’s start at the beginning...

What is a Blister?

A blister is a fluid-filled sac caused by heat or friction. Fluid collects under the damaged skin, cushioning the tissue underneath. This protects the tissue from further damage and allows it to heal.

Most blisters are filled with a clear fluid (serum), but may be filled with blood (blood blisters) or pus if they become inflamed or infected. This was the type I had which almost sent me to hospital and meant the end of my Larapinta journey.

Many hikers assume that blisters simply come with the territory—that there’s no way to walk 10 or 20+ kilometres per day without some serious foot pain.

The first thing to know is that blisters are caused by friction - you will often feel a hot spot developing that can turn into a blister. While you may want to keep going, the best thing to do is stop immediately and tend to your feet.

How to treat hotspots and blisters on your feet

At the very first sign of a hot spot you can use:

Wool - I recommend Trekkers Wool which is 100% pure, natural, lanolin rich Australian Merino lambs’ wool.  The lanolin reduces moisture and friction; and the wool provides soft cushioning for hard working feet.

Tape - I recommend Fixomull which is made from a white, stretchable, non-woven polyester dressing sheet coated with skin-friendly polyacrylate adhesive on quick-release backing paper.

Blister Patches - I recommend Compeed blister plaster which acts like a second skin to support the natural moisture balance, relieve blister pain and protect and cushion against rubbing.

For hotspots on toes - I recommend Scholl Toe Gel Protectors which provide cushioning protection with Gelactiv/Soft Gel Technology for immediate relief from pressure & rubbing. Just cut to size depending on which toe(s) are rubbing and slip on .

Once a blister has formed you can use:

Foam - foam can be a bit bulky but cutting out a donut can be great for the ball of your foot and corns/bunions. If you have a formed blister, you'll need to take the pressure off it. The thicker the foam, the better the pressure relief - but the more room they take up in your shoe. If you get prevention right, you won't need these.

Blisters are painful, annoying, and incredibly common, but don’t let them ruin your adventure




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