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rstubblefield
2005-03-20, 19:12
I had to cut short a 21 day hike on the AT last year due to blisters. Lots of rain, everyone had serious blisters, even the thru-hikers who had logged 600+ miles by the time I met them in VA.

I know I can start walking around barefooted when the weather gets warm enough, included long walks on my gravel driveway, but what about the portions of my feet that don't touch the ground but do touch my boot? Pickle juice, rubbing alcohol?

yucca stick
2005-03-20, 20:45
Sounds like 'paddy-foot' or wet damage. Clean dry socks twice a day is the only cure known to the marines.

As a rule I seldom get blisters or even 'hot spots' but when I do I've learned that witch hazel (a strong astringent) cools and toughens the skin quickly. An overnight witch hazel pad on a blister will turn it into a callus.
Prior to a long downhill I've found a thurough wipe will keep my tootsies cool and quiet.
Ive always been considiret of my feet for obvious reasons. Poly sock liners and high grade wool blend socks year round and of course, carefully fitted shoes.
good luck and enjoy each step

Sgathak
2005-03-21, 03:20
Keep your feet dry as possible!

One time carrying a kifaru wood stove comes in handy is when all your socks are soaked... just hang em up, light up the stove, and they will be dry - and WARM - along with your tootsies in an hour or so.

For toughening the feet, chemically, do a google search of recipies of "Dit Da Jow".... A trip to the store for some Absorbine Jr might work out well for you too.

KLeth
2005-03-21, 04:00
Well I've tried serveral things during my marching days.
Depending on the types of blisters, there are serveral ways to deal with it, but mainly there are two approaches: Prevent blisters and treat blisters.

How I prevent blisters:
Blisters under a lot of dead skin will be a lot more painfull since pressure within the blister is quite high, especially when the body weight is applied to the blister. Most of the pain caused by a blister is due to the pressure within the blister. It's not very fun to try and dig into a deep blister in the heel if it's under 2-3mm of dead skin.

Therefore, everytime I'm in the shower :bath: I rub my feeth with a Pumice block to keep'em nice and soft - This also reduces the abillity to have smelly feet . After the bath I rub my feet with a good fatty moisturizer, unless I'm a few days from a hike.

If the sole of the boot/shoe is hard I put in a inner gel sole, this will mostly prevent blisters caused by the impact of the boot.

When selecting socks I use a very soft synthetic inner-sock like the ones Falke makes. Then I have at least a woolly sock on the outside - Sometimes two, depending on shoe, boot and/or weather.

Last and not at least I plaster up my feet if I know where and why I'll get blisters. For this I use Artiflex (http://www.jobst-usa.com/artiflex.html) and Tensoplaster (http://e-consultants.nl/i.asp?file=Tensoplast.jpg&client=disporta&vsize=160&hsize=160&frame=on).
First I cushion the area of the foot with 1-3 layers of Artiflex and the I add the Tenso as a protective layer - Maybe serveral layers. If I have to patch up toes I just wrap Artiflex around them in different ways.
NEVER add tenso directly on the feet since it can stick so hard that it will rip of your skin if removed without the use of proper solvent. A well made patch with Tenso can easily be used serveral days if you're carefull and sleep with your socks on.
Picture of "How not to . ." (http://home19.inet.tele.dk/bubbys/march.htm). Also Compeed can cause some pretty bad injuries if it either rolls up or gets "vulcanized" into the skin.

How I treat blisters :
If I get blisters due to folds in the socks, small stones ect. then I just disinfect and puncture the blister by cutting of a small triangular piece of the skin. This has to be done in the direction of the foot' roll since it otherwise the blister will keep building pressure and thereby expanding.
If the blister is critical, I still drain it but then I patch it up with Tenso and Artiflex like explained above. If you're hardcore the you'll just place the Artiflex on the skin and keep it in place with the sock.

Most blisters do not need to be patched if they're drained before evolving to the size of a nickel and the cause of the blister is moved or removed.

If the blister gets infected I use a hot foot-bath with a lot of soap flakes or the hard brown soap. Never use the liquid brown soap since it often will contain toxic additives.

I hope this was of interest to somebody!

I've helped a lot of people with their feet.
Serveral times in Nijmegen I've been a part of a Danish "patch'em up site" in our tent where we've helped especially US soldiers with their feet while they kept bringing in beer :beer: and other commodities. It's quite a sight to watch grown up soldiers "run" :stickyman away from their medics.

I've also learned a lot the hard way and I've tried walking 40km on something resembling minced meat more than feet :turtle:
But for me, the above mentioned has worked from the roads of Nijmegen, in thunderstorms and heatwaves, to north of the polar circle in rain, swamps and snow. You know that your boots are waterproof if they dont leak a single drop . . . .

Aussie Nutter
2005-03-21, 05:58
Not sure if this is of any help but i was told once to put some plastic in my boots between my socks and my sole. Just cut up garbage bag plastic i think and i guess it would work best if your innersole was removable and you could afix it somehow. Cuts down on friction and prevents blisters... i dont get them so i never tried it, but i guess it would work.

Iceman
2005-03-21, 11:55
Not sure if this is of any help but i was told once to put some plastic in my boots between my socks and my sole. Just cut up garbage bag plastic i think and i guess it would work best if your innersole was removable and you could afix it somehow. Cuts down on friction and prevents blisters... i dont get them so i never tried it, but i guess it would work.

Whoa' there friend. Let's not be giving advice you haven't tried atleast even a little bit. Feet is serious business. My guess is; dunkin' your feet in a plastic bag may increase the humidity, causing further problems. Maybe someone in the know can chime in here on the plastic bag proposal. I admit I do not know about this "remedy." My foot care tip is to worry about blisters earlier rather than later. If I have an issue, I treat it immediately, not later, after the damage has been done.

Hog On Ice
2005-03-21, 13:36
Actually I interpreted it as the foot on top of the plastic bag, not in the plastic bag, which does make some sense at least as far as blister prevention goes. I personally have not tried this approach for a couple of reasons 1.) I think it is more important to have a foot that is not sliding around at all in the shoe for stability of control especially going down hill; 2.) I have mostly avoided blisters through the use of trail runners, Super Feet foot beds, and Bridgedale wool socks and don't feel the need to try any other approaches. These days the only time I get hot spots is if I am walking on sandy trails - not sure why but maybe the plastic under the foot could help.

jimtanker
2005-03-21, 20:29
Wear one thin nylon sock inside and your normal wool/hiking sock on the outside. Never got a blister since I started doing that. Even after sitting my ass at this desk I am at right now for a year then having to do a 12 mile army ruckmarch. Not a single blister. Other guys were laid up for days after that. :elefant:

Aussie Nutter
2005-03-22, 00:35
Yes i did mean under your sock! not sock in bag... that i have tried after i got completly soaked boots on day 2 of a 10 day hike. The advice was given to me by a bloke whilst i made garbage bag booties for my very wet boots. He said that some ppl put platic just in the bottom to avoid blisters. I have never had a blister on my feet as i tend to spent as little time wearing shoes as possible. I am a yobbo aussie afterall. Yes the plastic would be slippery... thats the point. One would need to do laces up to around 150 pound per foot.

SGT Rock
2005-03-22, 01:22
It isn't always possible to keep feet dry all the time, that is why jungle boots were invented, to at least let the water drain out and the feet dry as best possible. It is an overall strategy to protect the feet, there isn't one magic thing I have seen yet. Lets see, some things I have done and seen...

1. At first sign of a hot spot, stop and throw some duct tape on it. If you are going to be doing some hard stuff and you know ahead of time, say like an Air Assault School ruck march, then go ahead and tape up the places you know are going to do worst.

2. Dry your feet every chance you get. Air them out at night, rotate socks when possible, foot powder can help.

3. If you get a blister, rubbing some alcohol on it at night before going to bed can help a callus to form up quicker.

4. Treat blisters. This is sort of a judgment call, some are better to leave in tact, some are better to drain and protect. Tincture of Iodine is something I have witnessed but never experienced. It did work, but it looked like hell.

5. Get your foot gear to fit well. This may mean getting the best, it may mean Wal-Mart shoes if they fit well. It may involve buying two pairs of shoes for one right and one left of different sizes.

5. Don't use cotton socks, they get wet and stay wet. When they get a little sand in them they try to take your skin off. I prefer synthetic running socks with light shoes for trail hiking, but for rucking and heavy off trail stuff a good pair of nylon liner socks with wool socks works great.

6. Something I have seen to fight friction and moisture was folks using anti-perspirent on their feet. I can say if it worked, but it made some sense when you think about it cutting down on moisture, killing some bacteria, and providing some lubricant on the feet.

Rage in a Cage
2005-03-22, 04:06
For me the answer to avoiding blisters has been to recognize when a hotspot first develops and to take immediate measures. For me that usually involves drying the foot and then applying duct ape to the affected area and if need be changing socks. I have used mole skin but duct tape works as well for me.
I also wear a thin liner between my socks and feet most of the time. This has decreased the frequency of hotspots. Hopspots often indicate a problem with shoe fit or some other imperfection. The worst blister I have ever had involved a pair of boots that I had logged many miles in without any problems. I had stepped on a nail and punctured the sole a few weeks before and didn't think it would be a problem. I thought the small hole would reseal itself when I pulled the nail out. I also hadn't noticed that the footbed had been raised slightly where the nail penetrated. These two things coupled with my own bullheadedness lead to the blister. When I started hiking a small amount of water was forced through the sole, wetting my sock at the ball of the foot. I noticed the hotspot but thought since I only had two miles to go I would wait and tend to it in camp. That was a mistake and I blistered the ball of my foot. Had I stopped and attended to it when I first felt the warmth I doubt that I would have had a problem. The moral of the story for me is if I treat the hotspots while they are only warmspots I likely will not have to treat blisters.
What few times I have had blisters I have found that removing the dead skin and applying duct tape seems to work best. If I leave the damaged layer of skin it tends to rub against the other layer and develops a blister within a blister. Your results may very well be different, so don't do it just because I do. I have also seen people cut away the damaged skin and put a coat of liquid bandaid/skin on the affected area. It appears to work for them , but I have not tried it. If anyone here has tried this perhaps they could post their findings.
Damp or wet feet have always been an issue for me. My feet sweat regardless of the temp and this in turn leads to damp cold feet. For this reason I carry more socks and switch them more often than most people. I had heard of using anti-perspirant on the feet but had forgotten to try it. When I get back out hiking I'll give it a go.

Rage in a Cage
2005-03-22, 04:15
Ah shucks....Duct ape should read duct tape. :embarasse Though I cannot say with complete certainty that duct ape will not work, I don't believe it is avaliable in my area. :rolleyes:

Scout
2005-03-22, 15:12
But for me, the above mentioned has worked from the roads of Nijmegen, in thunderstorms and heatwaves, to north of the polar circle in rain, swamps and snow. You know that your boots are waterproof if they dont leak a single drop . . . .

Great information...I passed it along to a buddy of mine who marched Nijmegen. Thanks!

Just Jeff
2005-03-22, 17:08
5. Get your foot gear to fit well. This may mean getting the best, it may mean Wal-Mart shoes if they fit well.

AMEN. I get funny looks in the uppity hiker stores when I mention hiking in HiTechs. I've tried all the expensive ones, and my best fit were by far my HiTechs. My newest pair was $60 on sale for $20...and they're the only ones I could find that didn't hurt my feet!


It may involve buying two pairs of shoes for one right and one left of different sizes.

Most people's feet are actually different sizes...they're just close enough to get both shoes in the same size.

Hiking in different types (or sizes) of shoes may throw your hips and back out of alignment. If you're trying this and get hip and back pain, try going back to the same pair and see if it goes away.


6. Something I have seen to fight friction and moisture was folks using anti-perspirent on their feet. I can say if it worked, but it made some sense when you think about it cutting down on moisture, killing some bacteria, and providing some lubricant on the feet.

I used spray antiperspirant on my feet a couple of times in boot camp when I ran out of foot powder. Seemed to work as well as the powder and was actually easier to put on.

Note on deodorant in the field:

An AF survival instructor told me that deodorant works by surrounding the bacteria so it can't break down the sweat, and providing a sweet smell to overcome the bad smell. (The sweat doesn't stink...it's the bacteria breaking it down that causes the stink.) So it keeps the bacteria from causing the stink, but the bacteria is still in your armpits. It's designed for folks who shower regularly and can wash away the bacteria before it builds up. He said that if you use deodorant in the field, the bacteria can build up and cause rashes, which will make the stink even worse, and possibly be painful.

Anyway, just what he said. I don't use it if I'm out for more than a few days.

Jeff

Iceman
2005-03-23, 01:13
If you are one who constantly picks up the athletes foot fungi at the gym, I have learned to pretreat my feet for the week prior to going afield, even if I do not show any curent signs of the fungi infection. I have found that for myself, this has kept any issue with the fungi blossoming while on the trail.

I had an incident where within the first mile of a hike, where we had to ford a river, and a very warm hike thereafter, and even though my partner and I changed from our water mocs, to hiking boots, we both still developed a pretty severe case of itchy scrathy foot for the rest of the trip. I believe from too much heat and too much moisture. Since then, I have always pretreated for the issue for the week or so prior to my outing and have had no repeat problems.

Major Slacker
2005-04-20, 23:39
Toughening feet before a hike? Walk as much as you can wearing your full pack and foot gear, and treat your feet as if you were on the trail -- ditto most of the posts.

Draining a blister: better to push a sterile needle through the live skin near the blister rather than cutting or piercing the dead skin. The live skin will seal the drain hole, preventing possible infection.

I've tried almost everything -- duct tape, moleskin, chemical callous (super glue), draining, not draining. My feet sweat so much nothing really works for treating my blisters except taking it easy on my feet.

Prevention is key for me. I started using a thin nylon liner sock with rag wool outer socks after I got my first blisters 25 years ago. I've had only a few blisters since, usually due to overdoing the distance or the pace.

I've walked away from hiking boots and over to trail shoes -- the more ventilation, the better. Current favorite is the Merrell Chameleon Ventilator, but I'm trying out a pair of Teva mesh shoes (don't know the model) that weigh 12 oz. each and breath like crazy.

For the past few years I've been using thin seamless nylon roadrunning socks alone or with Thorlo synthetic hiking outer socks, depending on the weather. This past winter I tried a pair of neoprene socks from Campmor. They RULE! I just spent 9 days hiking the Appalachian Stream… er, Trail, and I'm beginning to think I might never use anything else again. They absorb no moisture and add a springy cushion underfoot. I've ordered two more pair.

Iceman
2005-04-21, 02:11
Neoprene, as in neoprene used to make waders? How clammy were your feet with the neoprene, ( I assume over synthetic liner socks)?

Major Slacker
2005-04-21, 09:48
Neoprene, as in neoprene used to make waders? How clammy were your feet with the neoprene, ( I assume over synthetic liner socks)?
Yep, neoprene as in waders, wetsuits, mousepads, whatever.

Not clammy, the socks are fully ventilated. My feet (and the rest of me for that matter) sweat like I'm always walking around in a foot bath anyway, so moisture management -- not dryness -- is the thing. I wear seamless nylon roadrunning socks as liners and the ventilated shoes I mentioned. Another benefit: wading a stream is a no-brainer -- no stopping to change shoes or socks -- just walk on. After the first few steps most of the water is squished out, and after a minute or two it's like, "What stream?"

http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?memberId=12500226&productId=13287368

Campmor Neoprene Stretch Socks
Item Number: 11411
Price: *$9.99

* Super 4 way stretch neoprene.
* Easy on and off.
* The warmth of closed cell neoprene.
* Breathable macroporous technology prevents moisture build-up.
* Seals in the heat.
* Fits comfortably into ski boots, snowboarding boots or any other winter footwear.
* Avg. wt. 3 oz.
* Import.

Iceman
2005-04-22, 03:36
Very cool tip! Sounds like what a guy needs out west for a soggy elk hunt. They don't call it Washington State cause it's so dry... I will definitely be trying a pair of these. Thanks for the info!

Major Slacker
2005-04-22, 22:36
On the AT I was thinking about gaiters. I was getting dirt and stuff down inside my shoes and walking behind a couple of guys wearing gaiters. I've used them before for walking in snow, but I've always considered them a big hassle to carry, put on, take off, etc. I started wondering if I could rig some gaiters with pieces of my ground sheet (trash bag) and duct tape. Then I started thinking about how I could maybe make other gear out of trash bags and duct tape. Then I wondered just how much gear I could make out of trash bags and duct tape, and it began to dawn on me that I could make A LOT of gear out of trash bags and duct tape. But that's like another thread entirely.

So anyway, after all the excitement about trash bags and duct tape, I looked down at my neoprene socks and thought, "What if I just pull the tops of the socks down over the tops of my shoes?" I pulled them down and thought, "Cool!" After about 30 seconds they crawled back up around my ankles, and I thought, "Crap."

This morning, back home again, I got out the self-adhesive Velcro dots, stuck dots on the sides of my shoes -- on the big part of the M in the Merrell logo, about 1/2" below and 1" forward of the bottom of the ankle notch -- and on my neoprene socks -- right at the top edges of the socks and in line with the dots on the shoes -- and presto!, instant gaiters. And they really, really work.

After checking out the gaiters for a while and thinking, "Yeah, baby!," I got out the glue and made the dots permanent.

P.S. I added another dot to each shoe -- on the heel of each -- and a corresponding dot on each sock, because the "gaiters" were riding up in back after a few hours of walking.

GregH
2005-04-25, 16:58
I have a pair of Zamberlan GTs that I've used when canoeing/portaging in the Quetico for the last 2 years. They've never given me a blister when used with a liner (cotton/nylon blend) and Thorlo hiking crew socks.
The last time I wore the boots was the trip last July. I put the boots into the closet and had not used them since.
This past weekend I hiked some of the Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma. Very rocky and steep grades. I developed a real "hotspot" on the bony part of my left heel (on the back of my foot, not the bottom). By the time I realized I'd better stop and check it out it was about the size of a nickel, had popped and the skin was partially separated, and it was on fire. I used a knuckle bandage and some neosporin to cover it. It was paining me but I made it to camp and kept my hikes to very short walks for the rest of my trip.

Here is my question: After boots have been saturated (portaging up streams at times) for a week and then put away can they deform and require a new break-in?
Upon inspection I noticed that my liner socks were worn, although not worn-out. Could it be the liner betrayed me and not my boot?

--Greg

Major Slacker
2005-04-25, 20:34
This is the first I've heard about the Ouachita Trail. I'll have to look it up.

I used to live in Dallas and hiked a lot in the Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge which I enjoyed very much. Have you been there?

Sorry I don't have an answer for you about the boots. I'm usually careful about cleaning and airing my boots after every trip.

Rage in a Cage
2005-04-25, 23:44
Greg, I have had this problem when I stored wet boots and then put them on after they dried. The part of the foot that you describe sounds like the back of the heel where the boot flexes when you step. Inspect the boot and make sure there is no obvious distortion. If not try them on a couple of short hikes and see if they don't get better. I don't believe it was a liner problem, likely it was the boot that wore the liner down. Zamberlan makes a conditioner that may be of some help, but you may be able to get by without it.

dougmeredith
2005-04-26, 07:53
The last time I wore the boots was the trip last July.
...
Here is my question: After boots have been saturated (portaging up streams at times) for a week and then put away can they deform and require a new break-in?

I think breaking in boots is more about breaking in your feet than the boot. If I don't wear my boots for a few months, I treat them like new boots and go through a break-in period.

Doug

Basilio
2005-04-26, 10:24
Hi Rstubblefield,
in most cases the problem with blisters on the trails arises cause of the inproper shoes choice. Thats why I stick to trail runners- they are durable, cosy and first and foremost- light. But as far as you look forward to barefoot, an unknown area for me, you should probably do some more profound investigation about it...

If your feet do look to be too prone for blisters and bumps, then you should consider that the problem is to be looked for distant from the mere boots considerations. I couldn't tell for sure, I am not a doc, but here are just some of the possible reasons causing all the harmdone to you: dryness and other common skin problems, a skin infection (diabete)...either way consult your doctor before going on barefoot. Here's something I remember from my modest experience :biggrin: If the skin on your feet is dry, apply a lanolin base cream (but not between the toes). If your feet perspire a lot, use talcum powder... :turtle:

GregH
2005-04-26, 15:38
This is the first I've heard about the Ouachita Trail. I'll have to look it up.

I used to live in Dallas and hiked a lot in the Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge which I enjoyed very much. Have you been there?

Sorry I don't have an answer for you about the boots. I'm usually careful about cleaning and airing my boots after every trip.

Are you sure you don't mean the Ouachita (pronounced Wash-Ee-Ta) Trail? It is a National Recreational Trail which runs from Talihina, OK almost to Little Rock, AR. Is this what you're thinking about?

GregH
2005-04-26, 15:41
Rage and Doug,

Thanks for the advice. Especially considering my feet for break-in rather than the boots. Believe me, it was definitely my feet that were broken on this trip! :rolleyes:

I'll start with short hikes and no pack to get ready for my next trip.

Thanks.

Major Slacker
2005-04-27, 09:51
Are you sure you don't mean the Ouachita (pronounced Wash-Ee-Ta) Trail? It is a National Recreational Trail which runs from Talihina, OK almost to Little Rock, AR. Is this what you're thinking about?
Apparently, I have heard of but not walked the Ouachita Trail. I found the map in my files when I went looking for the Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge map. Wichita Mts. W.R. is in southwest OK, near Lawton. It's pretty cool, especially the Charon Gardens area.

GregH
2005-04-28, 11:47
Ouachita Trail, Wichita Mountains, Wichita Falls...hmmm, I wonder if the settlers lost something in translation?

It's like that Kindergarten exercise: have everyone stand in a circle. One person begins by whispering a phrase into the ear of the one next to them. Who then repeats it to the one next to them, etc. By the end of the circle the phrase usually bears little resemblance to the original phrase.

GregH
2005-05-06, 17:38
Hey, I'm famous! The Outside Online Gear Guy answered my question regarding my blistered foot! His advice very closely matches the sage wisdom offered from this board. Check it out:
The Gear Guy Answers Greg: (http://outside.away.com/outside/gear/gearguy/200505/20050506.html)

Now I probably won't be able to hike without people asking for my autograph! :biggrin:

Rage in a Cage
2005-05-07, 00:18
I suspect that Robin Leach will be contacting you any day now. :biggrin: