Don’t you just hate buying new work boots, loving them, but wincing with pain when wearing them because they’re butchering your feet?
You’re on your feet all day trying to earn a living, in all conditions. You want your feet to be comfortable. You want those work boots to give you many miles, but those nasty blisters hurt you, hinder you, and make you wish you stayed at home.
Well, in this article you’ll understand why blisters occur and also I’m going to share with you a few tips and tricks that will help prevent those nasty blisters.
What are blisters and what causes them?
Blisters are nasty little lesions on your skin that are usually filled with fluid. Most of them appear on the outer layer of the skin. They normally stick out, sometimes like a bubble.
They are typically red, unless a blood blister, which is where the skin has been pinched and the area fills with blood. In this case they could be either red or a darker color. Sometimes appearing blue or purple.
So here are some of the causes
Blisters naturally occur under the below circumstances as a way of protecting the deeper tissues from further damage.
1. Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is one way a blister can form. It happens when the skin comes into contact with substances that can cause irritation or allergic reactions.
Some man-made chemicals can be harmful to the skin. They’re usually packaged with a symbol that informs that they could cause harm or irritation.
Some natural entities can also cause blisters. For example, plants like poison ivy, or even insect bites.
2. Health issues
Health issues often cause blisters. There are many, but in relation to the feet, to name only a few, blisters could be caused by dermatitis, chicken pox, erysipelas, and impetigo. These are the most commonly known.
Burns are a major cause, with the size of the blister being determined by the severity of the burn. This includes sunburns. We’ve all been in the sun too long at some point, and paid the price.
Friction is a form of burn and is the main reason blisters occur on feet. It happens when the skin constantly rubs against socks or footwear, most commonly on the backs of the heels.
Blisters from your work boots can occur for a variety of reasons.
The main one is if the boots are either too small or too big.
Boots that are too small will put too much pressure on specific areas of the foot, either digging in or rubbing hard. Boots too big will move too much, causing that unwanted friction.
Not tying the laces tight enough will also cause the boots to move more than necessary.
Moisture from rain or sweat can soften the skin making it vulnerable. The lack of protection from the soft skin will increase the chances of getting blisters.
Here are 8 tips to prevent blisters (especially when wearing new work boots)
Alright, now that you know a little bit more about blisters, let’s talk about how to prevent them.
1. Break in new work boots
One bugbear of buying new work boots is that they’re often quite stiff or nipping in certain places when we first wear them, which can lead to soreness, and often blisters.
The first thing you should do is break them in. This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the type of boots.
It will gradually soften the boots and mold them to the shape of your feet, making them much more comfortable, with less friction.
If you want to avoid nasty blisters at the back of your heel when buying a new pair of work boots, this is probably the best thing you can do (next to buying a good pair of wool socks, more on this below).
2. Precaution by way of Band-Aids or vaseline
Once the boots are broken in, the next step is ‘precaution’. This only really applies if you’re very prone to blisters, or if you buy very stiff boots that you know will take a long time to break in, like wildland firefighter boots for example.
The precaution comes by way of Band-Aids. They’re a good way to prevent blisters in danger areas, like the heels. They’ll need to be sturdy and have good adhesive, due to the high pressure and constant movement in that area.
An alternative is to apply vaseline to the problem areas before wearing the boots. This will add lubrication.
3. Get better quality socks
The socks you wear might help. You could try wearing thick heated socks during the break-in period. The heat will soften the boot materials, which will help break them in easier.
This might not be practical in the summer, or while out or at work, but it’s a simple task that can be done at home.
Specialist blister-prevention socks are also available. They have soft, minimal seems that don’t dig in and irritate sensitive skin, and have cushioning in certain areas. Here’s an example from Dr. Scholl.
Liner socks might help. They form a barrier between your skin and the normal
socks, which reduces the friction that causes the blisters.
Buy wool socks! I didn’t know this until I stopped buying those crappy, cheap 100% synthetic socks. When I first bought wool socks I was kinda like: Are wool socks really a good idea? They’re thick and itchy…
Little did I know how an AMAZING idea it was to wear wool socks with work boots, for many reasons. One of them being the anti-blisters feature they have.
4. Blister prevention cushions or gel pads
There are lots of blister prevention cushions or pads on the market. They usually come with built-in gel to cushion the problem areas.
5. Stretch your work boots
If your boots are too tight in certain areas, even after breaking them in, you could stretch them using shoe or boot stretchers. A bit of a cheat to give your feet some extra space.
6. Choose the right fitting boots in the first place
Before you start breaking your boots in, it’s important that you’ve chosen the right-fitting boots in the first place.
They shouldn’t slide up and down at the heel, and shouldn’t be too tight around the toes.
Be aware of foot width. Some feet are wider than others, therefore you’ll need wider-fitting boots. A good boot merchant will provide various width boots within the sizes.
And when you get them home, tie the laces tight enough (but not too tight). Loosely tied boots might allow them too much movement.
7. Keep your feet dry as much as possible
Try to keep the feet dry, because as stated before, moisture can cause blisters because it softens the skin, making it vulnerable.
People who sweat a lot can have a problem with this. Moisture-wicking socks help. But there are other ways to help relieve your feet from sweat.
8. Use cornstarch
Applying small amounts of Cornstarch to the blistering area can reduce friction. It also keeps the area fresh.
Although, you’ll need to be very careful not to use Cornstarch on open blisters. The area will be too raw, and it might cause infection.
9. Wear the appropriate boots for the task
Not wearing appropriate boots for the tasks can be a problem. For example, it’s not advisable to wear very stiff, heavy-duty work boots for hiking and walking long distances, or doing lots of squatting and kneeling.
How to treat blisters caused by work boots?
However much you try to prevent foot blisters, there’s always a chance that you’ll still get one. Don’t worry, there are ways you can treat them.
1. Don’t pop the blisters
Whatever you do, don’t pop the blister (says me who always pops them). Experts really don’t like you doing it because it could lead to infection.
If the blister is unbearably big and painful, and you really need that release, one
way of popping them is by piercing the edge with a sterilized needle. But don’t tell
anyone I told you. If you do, I’ll deny it.
2. Use Band-Aids
Band-Aids are probably the most common way of treating blisters. They reduce friction and help the healing process.
Make sure the blister is clean first, by using an ointment, then stick on the Band-Aid, keeping the middle quite loose to give the blister enough air to dry, which will help with the healing.
Otherwise, you can cover the blister with a non-adhesive bandage. If so, make
sure to change the bandage daily.
3. Clean the affected area
It’s important to maintain cleanliness, by washing, and using alcohol, or antiseptic ointment.
Then afterwards, you can use vaseline to act as a barrier, protecting the wound from further friction and dirt.
4. Use Epsom salt
Epsom salt is a good remedy. It helps dry out unpopped blisters. It also helps reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling, because it’s high in magnesium.
All you do is pour some Epsom salt into a tub of warm water, stir it thoroughly,
then soak your foot in the liquid.
There, we hope your thirst for knowledge has now been quenched. You now know what blisters are in general and why they occur, what to do to prevent foot blisters, and how to treat them if they appear.
So hopefully, you can now wear your work boots in comfort.
But if you want to go out for the night to get away from all the woes of the day’s labor, pop your glass slippers on without having to worry about limping while dancing with your Prince or Princess Charming.
Let’s go to the ball.
Team Members Working On This Page
Hey, Jimmy here. I’m one of the researchers and writers here at BestForMyFeet.com. I’ve been wearing work boots all my life working as a forklift driver, landscaper, groundworker, and now as a tower crane operator so I know a few things about footwear and footcare in general. I’m also working on my first novel. So writing IS my passion. When I’m not writing I love to spend time with my wife, two children, and furball.
Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!