Feet blisters all start the same way—friction. It might be from too-small running shoes, too-big toes sliding forward on high heel shoes, or too-sweaty toes rubbing together in flats, says Lori Weisenfeld, M.D., a New York City sports podiatrist. “Friction causes layers of skin to separate and foot blisters are the painful pockets of air or fluid that form between the layers,” she says.
Here are three ways to avoid them and treat blisters so you can have the sexy sandal-ready feet that summer intended, and not painful feet.
1. Sock and slip
Before you even step out the door in new sandals, Weisenfeld recommends wearing them in the house the day before—with lightweight socks. “It can help you see if the new shoes are rubbing and where,” says Weisenfeld. “Also, it makes the leather more supple—almost like ‘breaking them in.’”
Once you’ve identified your hot spots, preemptively slather on a slicking solution that can bulletproof the area. It feels like lotion but acts like wax. “The solution covers your skin with a light film that acts as a barrier between your skin and the shoe,” says Weisenfeld. It won’t help you after you have a blister, but if you reapply whenever you start to feel irritation, you can keep one from popping up.
Try Dr. Scholl’s For Her Miracle Shield, $6.99, drscholls.com. It comes in a jumbo-lip-balm-size roll-on bottle that you can easily toss in your bag.
2. Make like a mole
Tiny band-aids are no match for a blister. Instead, try moleskin, a softer, more breathable bandage alternative. Put a small piece of gauze over the blister and cover it with the moleskin. It’s more pliable, stickier, and can take shoe friction like a champ.
Try ProFoot’s Velvetex Moleskin, $3.99-$4.99, drugstores.
3. What blister?
Smooth over rough patches—like half-healed blisters—with creams containing urea, says Weisenfeld. It works as an exfoliant and smooths away thick dead skin to help prevent cracking.
Try Butter London’s Stiletto Stick. It isn’t greasy, and comes as a solid roll-up stick so your hands don’t get caked with foot cream. $30, butterlondon.com
Just have to pop it? How to treat blisters
Leaving it sealed can prevent infection, so only pop a blister if it’s filled with fluid and so painful that you can’t even slip on your comfiest kicks, says Weisenfeld.
Pierce the blister where it meets the skin with a clean, sterile needle to drain the fluid. To sterilize, wash needle with soapy water, dry and rub down with alcohol. Make sure to leave the roof of the blister intact and never cut skin that hurts when you pierce it (dead skin—like the tops of blisters—won’t hurt, but healthy skin will).
Apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream and cover with gauze and moleskin. Change your bandage daily. The deeper the blister, the longer it will take to heal.