The 7 Myths of Blister Prevention On Feet

by Rebecca Rushton

“... many myths continue to be propagated regarding the prevention and treatment of friction blisters” Douglas Richie DPM (2010)



MYTH 1 Blisters are a burn

The reality is …

  1. Friction blisters do not resemble thermal burns either clinically or histologically

  2. Experimental blister studies show only moderate increases in skin temperature to between 41-50 ºC (insufficient to cause a burn).

MYTH 2 Friction is rubbing

The reality is … (Friction is misunderstood)

Friction is the force that resists rubbing As the bone moves one way, the force of friction opposes this to keep the surface of the skin stationary. The result is all the soft tissue in between stretches. This is shear and this is what causes blisters. You don’t need rubbing to form blisters! Rubbing adds an abrasion injury (deroofed blister). 

  • Blister Cause = Shear
  • Deroofed Blister Cause = Rubbing

    MYTH 3 Wearing cotton socks will stop blisters 

    The reality is … (This is the worst thing you can do!)

    • Cotton is a hydrophilic (water-attracting) fibre
    • It keeps moisture trapped near the skin
    • Moisture increases friction levels
    • So cotton increases blister incidence

      MYTH 4 Powders stop friction

      The reality is ... (This won’t work for long)

      • Feet perspire a lot (especially when you exercise)
      • Powder absorbs as much perspiration as it can
      • Then it clumps together and increases friction levels

        MYTH 5 Lubricants are the best way to stop friction 

        The reality is … (This one is a semi-myth)

        • Initially friction reduces
        • Then friction increases

          MYTH 6 Heat, moisture and friction cause blisters

          The reality is … (This is an over-simplification)

          There are 4 factors required to produce blisters: 

          1. Thick and immobile skin
          2. High coefficient of friction (friction & pressure)
          3. Moving bone
          4. Repetition

            It gets hot in your shoe which causes your feet to sweat. This moisture increases friction levels. But this is just one part of blister formation. 

            MYTH 7 Blisters are a part of sport – wear them with pride!

            The reality is ... (Blisters are not inevitable!)

            Blisters are not inevitable! Get the facts.

            So you’re an athlete needing to solve your blister problem…

            Or you’re a sports medicine practitioner and need to improve your blister prevention outcomes …

   can help you with that!

            Using science and research to explain

            • what causes blisters
            • how preventative strategies work (and don’t work)

              “Information you can use with confidence to perform blister-free!”

              Rebecca Rushton
              Rebecca Rushton


              Podiatrist, blister prone ex-hockey player, foot blister thought-leaderauthor and educator. Can’t cook. Loves test cricket.

              Leave a comment

              Also in Blister Blog

              Adelaide 6 Day Race
              Adelaide 6 Day Race 2018: Blisters Results [UPDATE: A Message To 2019 Runners]

              by Rebecca Rushton 2 Comments

              The Adelaide 6-day race 2018 was held at the scenic Thorndon Park. The running surface was cement, part of it paved, and the loop is 1.42km, with 10m elevation.


              View full article →

              cutting holes in your shoes
              Cutting Holes In Running Shoes To Relieve Toe Blisters

              by Rebecca Rushton 2 Comments

              In the world of ultramarathon, feet swell and toes often blister - badly. This article shows how to cut holes in your running shoes so you can stay in the race.

              View full article →

              Thick toenails
              Thick Toenails: Cause, Symptoms, Treatment & Pictures

              by Rebecca Rushton

              It only takes one episode of trauma to the right (or should I say wrong) part of your toe and you’ll be stuck with one thick toenail (onychauxis) for life.

              View full article →