Saturday, October 22, 2011

Prevent, treat children's blisters on hikes

A blister is a small, painful pocket of fluid that builds in the upper layers of the skin.

You can avoid blisters by wearing good-fitting, broken-in boots and socks that provide cushion and wick moisture from the skin. If certain parts of a foot are prone to blistering, pretreat the area by placing mole skin or an adhesive bandage over it. Long and sharp toenails can lead to rubbing against a shoe and boot and thus blisters on the toes. Always remove tiny stones and twig pieces from a shoe. As soon as your foot or that of your kids’ feels any pain, check the foot for a “hot spot,” an area of inflammation that is on the verge of becoming a blister.

Always treat a hot spot as soon as you feel it by placing an adhesive bandage over the affected area. While you generally shouldn’t pop a blister, do so if hiking. Then clean the blister with antiseptic and dry it to help relieve pressure and to prevent the blister from spreading, which will occur if your keep walking. Place a piece of mole skin over it, secured by an adhesive bandage, so it does not continue to rub against the boot.

As a side note, place a little foot or baby powder in your boot before hiking. While this won’t prevent blisters, it’ll help reduce moisture on the foot, making the walk more comfortable.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.