Many of you will know that here at the Salus Foot Surgeon office, we promote and encourage a healthy, active lifestyle. Spending time outside and in nature, has been shown to improve health and well being. I have just completed the Adelaide Coastrek, a hike to raise money and awareness for the Beyond Blue organisation. My feet were in good shape at the end.
Here are a few top tips to help you with foot care and blister management during your hikes outside.
Prevention is the best cure.
- Try to keep your feet clean and dry as much as possible. Damp socks and shoes will cause the skin to macerate – what it looks like when you have spent too much time in the water, all wrinkled. With that, the skin is soft and is easy to break down causing wounds.
- Avoid sand in your shoes as much as possible. Sand is abrasive to the skin and will irritate and cause skin breakdown and wounds.
- Try out your equipment on shorter walks before you go on a long hike.
- Ensure your boots or shoes are properly fitted.
- Wear boots or shoes that are appropriate for the environment you are planning to walk or hike in. For example, “flip flops” or “thongs” are a poor choice of hiking shoe with no protection against rocks or stones, a thin sole, no protection against heat or cold and will contribute to muscle pain given the lack of support.
- Treat the skin “hot spots” as soon as you start to feel them. Dress the area with a blister dressing, or cover the area with tape such as leucoplast to prevent further skin breakdown. Remember that leucoplast or similar tapes may peel off the top layer of a newly forming blister, so best to cover the skin with a dressing first if this is the case. Comfeel dressings or similar, are also a great way to reduce further skin breakdown or use to cover new blisters.
- Socks are very important. Choose a natural material such as wool. These will help to wick moisture away from the skin. They also help to reduce skin irritation and blister formation.
- You may find wearing a thin undersock is comfortable for you such as a thin silk sock. Advantages include the natural fibre, they are smooth and slippery to help reduce skin friction and may provide increased warmth.
- Layering is an important principle in dressing for the outdoors and the feet are no exception.
- Don’t forget to clean your feet and change into clean, dry shoes and socks once you are finished your hike. You may need spare socks for the hike.
- Practice daily foot care in between exercising to reduce problems.
Enjoy your walk!