Dealing with foot and blister problems while walking the Camino?
One of the major topics of conversation amongst pilgrims when walking, stopping for a cafe con leche or at dinner in the evening is of course, blisters.
Most people seem to suffer from them at one point and of course all have their own techniques for treating or avoiding them.
The techniques I gained are solely from research on the Camino de Santiago forum. These techniques seem to be the ones most commonly used by experienced pilgrims.
Firstly to avoid blisters.
Don’t shower in the morning. Shower at night. It’s important to keep your feet very dry on the day that you are walking.
It seems that blisters are caused by heat, moisture and friction, so we need to try and avoid those three as much as possible.
In terms of preparing for the walk, this is the approach that I use.
I use a lot of Vaseline on my feet, around the toes, the balls of my feet and my heels before putting on thin, synthetic liner socks followed by thicker wool socks.
It’s important to have socks that help wick moisture away from your feet.
Whilst walking, at every major break, perhaps every three hours, I take off my boots and socks to allow them to air.
On longer walks I even carry an extra pair of socks and swap socks at each break, so that I’ve always got a dry pair on my feet.
Some people have asked me how to use sheep’s wool. So I’ve added a picture of the packet of sheep’s wool, with instructions, that I bought from New Zealand.
So we spent a few minutes collecting raw sheep’s wool to use for the same purpose.
Once you have a blister, there are loads of different techniques that people will use.
The one that I have used was the traditional Spanish method of sanitising a needle and thread in alcohol and then using the needle to puncture the blister, releasing the fluid inside and leaving the thread in the blister to help dry the fluid out.
NOTE. this is no longer recommended due to the risk of infection...
But of course, you should seek your own advice from healthcare professionals, on the technique that you want to use!
Here is a recent video on blister treatments that most people are suggesting is much better:
I hope this is of help.
P.S. I managed to walk for two weeks before getting my first small blister. In fact I don’t think it was even a blister. Just a sub skin swelling of some kind. I couldn’t get any fluid out of it..
I think that one came about because of my longer 32-kilometer walk.
I did notice some pain around the heel, but I assumed it was just my normal Achilles heel problem.
Had I used hiker’s wool as soon as I felt that, perhaps the tiny ‘blister’ would have been avoided.
(My podiatrist later told me it was not a blister but like a bubble deep in the flesh. These occur with age! )