For every year, I have been a part of the Breast Cancer 3 Day here in Seattle, always as a chiropractor. I’ts remarkable to me that there are SO many blisters that form on the walkers’ feet… and the resulting infections.
Blisters are really simply a friction problem. Sliding of the the skin back and forth over the underlying layer forces the body to lay down serosanguinous (blood and clear fluid) under the first layer, putting pressure on the delicate tissue underneath. This is a blister!! If left alone, the body will generally resorb the fluid, and the blister will dry, leaving a toughened area of skin called a callus.
How then, do you avoid a blister? AVOID FRICTION! Wear ThorLo socks, the kind with two layers. They will rub on each other instead of your skin. Put talcum powder or BodyGlide on your feet… they act as a lubricant to reduce friction. Often, I’ll see walkers put duct tape on their feet, or the Band Aids for blisters. Both of these products decrease friction, as well.
Of the best options I’ve seen are the “Strong Tea Soak”, where one brews up really strong tea and soaks their feet in it every night. The tannins from the tea help to “leatherize” your feet, and naturally reduce friction. THe more scientific way to do this is to get tincure of benzoin, which accomplishes the same thing. This is the product they use on the sled dogs of Alaska’s Iditarod.
When on the course, I’d recommend that each night walkers allow their feet to dry out completely as possible. Wetness simply leads to increased friction. Walking with more than one pair of shoes is important, too, as one pair of shoes can become wet and yield to painful results.
What do you do about blisters? Every podiatrist I know recommends that if the blister is smaller than a dime, LEAVE IT. The skin is a great infection barrier. If the blister is larger than that, drain it, disinfect it, and then apply second skin with moleskin on top of that.
After the walk, let your feet dry out. the body can do amazing things, such as resorbing the fluid, but it needs time to accomplish the task. If you want more advice, come see me in the medical tent!