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How to treat blisters on a Nepal trek

blister on a Nepal Trek

HOW TO TREAT BLISTERS ON A NEPAL TREK

If you like to walk/run/bike there is a good chance that you have experienced a blister. If at all you get a blister, it is better if you get it on your practice hike at home. A blister on an Everest Base Camp trek is not at all enjoyable; it would be worse if it happened on the Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek or on the Dolpo Trek. Hence, as the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. But prevention is not always possible. Below are some pointers on how to prevent and treat blisters while on a Nepal trek.

PREVENTING BLISTERS:

Boots:

The number one reason blisters occur is because of friction caused by pressure points in ill-fitting boots that rub certain areas of your feet. Hence, getting boots that fit right is very important. Also, if you have new boots, breaking in gradually into your boots prior to a major trek is the right thing to do. The break in period can take time so don’t wait – start a few months before your trek begins. Remember, even boots that are the right fit may give you a blister the first few times you wear them when they are new.

Socks:

Besides boots, your socks can be the other cause of blisters. If your socks are too big, a wrinkle can create a pressure point. If they are too small, sock slippage occurs which creates friction. Thus, the right fitting socks are very important. Also, avoid cotton socks as they retain moisture; wool or nylon socks work better. Some people use a liner socks as a protective layer. If your socks get wet (either water/snow or sweat), change into dry ones as soon as possible.

Other tips for prevention:

You may rub petroleum jelly or other lubricants on problem spots on your feet. This will reduce friction and hence prevent blisters. You could also pad an area that is prone to blistering. On long hiking days, if changing socks is not an option, take a minute to add talcum powder on your feet. This will allow your socks to wick moisture better.

Hot Spots:

It is important to deal with hot spots immediately. The moment you sense pinching or pressure on your feet, stop and take off your boots and socks. Dry your feet and use blister pads, bandages, tape or moleskin to prevent the hot spot developing into a blister. 2nd Skin can be used on hot spots for prevention as well as for blister treatment.

HOW TO TREAT BLISTERS:

It’s not always possible to avoid a blister. But when you do get a blister it’s imperative that you stop and treat it. Powering through the pain can make your blister pop and/or become infected.

Once you get a blister, you could do the following:

Doughnut hole: Cut a hole in your moleskin large enough to surround the blister. Then cover the blister and the first moleskin with another layer of moleskin for extra cushioning and protection.

Pads and gels: Pads and gels add a protective layer to prevent a blister from getting worse. Pads provide cushioning; gels soothe the area by cooling it off. One such product is  2nd Skin which can be used for blister treatment. It protects and cushions areas where you need it most from skin pressure, rubbing, chafing, and blisters.

Drain the blister:  It is advised to avoid opening a blister to release the fluid which creates a chance for infection. However, it might be necessary to drain a large blister. Do the following to pop your blister. If it pops on its own, follow steps 4 and 5:

  1. Wash the blister and surrounding area.
  2. Sterilize a needle/syringe with alcohol or heat.
  3. Insert the needle/syringe near the base of the blister.
  4. Dress the blister with antibiotic ointment and a gauze.
  5. Cut and place a moleskin with a doughnut hole around the blister. Fill the hole with antibiotic ointment and add a layer of tape over the top.
  6. Keep an eye on the blister for the next few days for infection. Apply antibiotic ointment as necessary.

One useful tip on Facebook by Dave Bethell:

“Carry some duct tape and when your feet begin to get hot spots before you even get a blister stick the tape to your skin where the spot is and Taadaa no mo blisters and the tape at the end of the day removes easily due to sweat 👍

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