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. And experimental blister studies show only moderate increases in skin temperatures of between 41-50 ºC (insufficient to cause a burn) Friction blisters do not resemble thermal burns either clinically or histologically

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.

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