Friction blisters on your toes can be painful and irritating — especially if you’ve bought new shoes and it hurts to walk in them.
They can affect people in all walks of life – 40% of soldiers in military training are affected by friction blisters. Backpackers and hikers are also at risk, with more than 50% suffering from them.
This is because these blisters are caused by friction against the skin.
How friction blisters on toes form
When your toes rub against something, whether that’s footwear or other toes, the skin becomes flushed and hot. A layer of the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) then tears away from the tissues below. As a result, plasma-like fluid leaks out of the cells and starts filling the gap that was created.
Friction burns usually appear on the toes, feet, heels or sides of the feet. In addition to footwear issues or toes that cross, they can be caused by:
- Spending time in a damp climate
- Frequent exercise
- Having a physical occupation that involves standing or walking for long periods
- Carrying extra weight while moving
- Wearing thin socks that do not wick away moisture.
With blisters, prevention is usually the best approach. A bit of planning in advance could help prevent developing a toe blister in the first place. With toe blisters, much of the focus should be on your footwear – both socks and shoes.
The most effective ways to prevent friction blisters on the toes are:
- Choosing the right sized shoes
- Avoiding shoes with narrow toe areas that could cause rubbing
- If wearing new shoes, try and wear them in
- Choose soft socks that can absorb any moisture away, avoiding cotton socks as they don’t wick away moisture as well as other types
- Use insoles and orthotics that can reduce pressure points on the feet
- Use talcum powder or antiperspirant on the feet to avoid excessive perspiration.