Blisters are one of the most common ailments of walking and, if severe enough, can stop you in your tracks. To ensure your journey along the West Highland Way is as comfortable as possible, we’ve put together a handy guide to help prevent and alleviate the discomfort of blisters.
There are three main ingredients for brewing a good blister; heat, friction and moisture. When we exercise, our core body temperature rises and our body’s cooling mechanism is to sweat. Sweat can secrete from any pores, even in your feet. Couple this warm moisture with the repetitive movement of walking with your feet in both socks and shoes, and you have a recipe for discomfort. However, there are a few things you can do to help prevent the formation of blisters and, how to treat them if they do arise.
If you’re venturing up the West Highland Way, we strongly advise investing in a quality pair of walking boots. While there are many features to tempt you into purchasing, be sure to look for boots/shoes which offer adequate support and waterproof/repellent capabilities.
Of course, if you are purchasing new boots for walking the West Highland Way in, then be sure to break them in before you go. Breaking in a stiff pair of new boots can be quite uncomfortable until they soften up and bed in. However, bedding in a new pair of shoes can cause blisters alone so be sure to take extra comfort measures, like wearing thicker socks or softening them up by wearing them in the house (clean, of course!).
You may have the best walking boots on the planet. Comfortable, protective, supportive and simply amazing for covering many miles in. However, your nifty walking boots won’t feel that nifty if you’re wearing inappropriate socks.
We recommend investing in a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks. By helping to draw moisture away from the skin, breathable socks will help keep your feet dry and reduce the build-up of unpleasantries that cause blisters. Be sure to wear clean socks each day wherever possible. This will not only help reduce the onset of blisters but will also help with other foot-related ailments such as athlete’s foot.
Some walkers and athletes will tape up their feet to further reduce friction, but also help protect existing blisters from getting further irritated.
There are products on the market to help with the soothing and healing of blisters. Chafing sticks are readily available in most pharmacies, and they’re designed to promote healing while protecting the blister from debris and allowing it to breathe.
Castor Oil & Vitamin E
Your skin needs vitamin E to help stay healthy. By providing the necessary ingredients for repairing cells, using vitamin E oil or taking oral capsules is a great skin remedy.
Another popular remedy for skin ailments and blisters is Castor oil. Commonly used as a remedy for toenail fungus, you can treat your blister by gently applying castor oil to the affected area before going to bed so it can soothe through the night. If you want extra speedy-healing, then mix in a small amount of apple cider vinegar!
Aloe Vera Gel Massage
Applying an antibiotic ointment to your feet will help to prevent the development of an infection. Aloe Vera gel (or petroleum jelly) is best applied before your walk. Not only will it help fight infection and reduce swelling, but aloe vera gel will also add a little bit of lubricant for your feet, reducing friction and your chances of developing blisters!
Green Tea Foot Bath
It’s as delicious as it sounds! Green tea has some amazing anti-inflammatory properties, making it a brilliant natural healer. After a long day on the West Highland Way, simply pop some green tea in boiling water, ideally in a bowl or basin, and let the tea brew while the water cools down naturally. Once the temperature is comfortable, slip your feet in and leave them to soak. A green tea foot bath will help to drain the fluid inside the blister while softening the skin.
Whenever you’re dealing with existing blisters, be sure to wash the affected areas and your hands thoroughly before applying any treatment. If your blisters become painful, inflamed or your concerned about them in any way, please consult a healthcare professional.