How to avoid and treat blisters

Blisters are caused by a detachment of one layer of your skin from the other. They’re a very common occurrence on the Camino and, like snoring, rain, dust, and grumpy people a fact of it. Overcoming the annoyance caused by them is an integral part of “arriving” on the Camino proper.

But blisters can be largely avoided.

Wear sensible socks. I recommend dual-layer ones, but good hiking socks also help.

You will sweat during the day. Rain may get into your shoes as well. Wet skin weakens slightly, meaning you’ll get blisters faster. Switching wet socks and showering in the evening instead of morning helps tremendously.

When you get them

Blister-patches are a beloved item on the Camino but, in my opinion (and that of many dermatologists) the worst thing you can do to your blisters.

Underneath them, moisture will collect, meaning you’ll further weaken the skin. Additionally, peeling them off after a few days will likely cause more damage than they helped.

Another (dangerous) advice includes “threading a thread,” meaning to puncture the blister and leaving some thread inside of it to “drain it.”

No better way to introduce a wick that brings in pathogens. Don’t do it.

Instead, leave smaller blisters alone. Put a normal band aid over them, and check your shoes and socks for the pressure point that caused them.

Larger blisters you can and probably should puncture with a needle made sterile over an open flame or in alcohol. Put a band aid over them, and try to walk lightly for the next few hours.

A little antiseptic spray on open blisters, either those who opened without your doing or the ones you opened, never hurt. Let dry before adding a band aid.