During fashion month, everyone involved — editors, influencers, those working on the shows — winds up spending a lot of time on their feet. I mean, running from show to show while making sure you look good from head to toe is no easy feat. You’re dealing with incredibly painful blisters and aching soles and arches from too much walking around in heels. With fashion month (and fall) just beginning, we decided that now is as good a time as ever to stop putting up with the pain and give your feet the TLC they deserve.
What are blisters, and how do you get them?
“Blisters are basically a pocket of fluid between the upper layers of skin,” says Sejal Shah, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City. “The most common causes are friction, a burn [thermal or chemical], freezing, and infection.”
According to Suzanne Levine, a podiatrist based in New York City, you want to limit the amount of contact your feet (bare and otherwise) have with your shoes. When there’s enough friction, it can cause inflammation, which means the skin cells separate from each other and painful blisters can develop. It’s natural to want to buy new shoes each season (who doesn’t love buying new boots for fall?!), but blisters are more likely to develop when shoes are new because the material is more stiff, which can end up causing more friction.
“When purchasing any shoe or sneaker, it should fit in the store. It should not have to be broken in,” says Levine. “You definitely want to make sure they fit by checking the width and length. There should be about a finger’s width of space in front of your longest toe.” Remember: If the shoe doesn’t fit or feel good, just don’t wear it!
Levine also believes heels should not be higher than two and a half inches. If you need to go higher for an event, wear them only at the event, and make sure you bring a pair of comfortable shoes.
And if a pair of shoes ends up causing you a blister: “If possible, do not continue wearing the shoes that are causing the problem,” Levine says. “If you do not have a different pair of shoes with you, cover [your feet] with a Band-Aid and change shoes when possible.” If your arches hurt from wearing high heels, she also recommends shoe inserts or orthotics specifically designed for high heels as they can help alleviate problems.
How do you prevent blisters?
But what can you do to actually prevent blisters?
Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City, says it’s important to apply bandages to the sensitive areas of the feet that you know will be rubbing up against your shoes even before you get a blister to prevent direct contact to the skin.
He also says to “make sure the feet are well hydrated, as dry, inflamed skin is more sensitive.” He recommends moisturizers that contain ingredients like “colloidal oatmeal, petrolatum, or ceramides” as they will help “form a protective barrier over the skin.”
”If you’re athletic,” Levine says, “I would definitely look for a good-quality pair of white athletic socks.” This is because athletic socks have padding in necessary areas and are designed to wick sweat away. If needed, you can try wearing two pairs of socks, if they fit comfortably in your athletic shoes. And materials-wise, she says natural materials, like cotton, are best for sensitive feet.
How do you heal blisters?
Have you ever wondered whether you should pop a blister? Well, “it’s best not to pop them…because that’s when people end up with all kinds of infections,” says Levine. According to Zeichner, the outer barrier of the blister acts as “a biologic dressing” akin to “nature’s Band-Aid” as a means to protect the underlying skin.
Instead, if a blister is large and uncomfortable enough, you can drain the fluid inside. “First clean the blister with rubbing alcohol and sterilize a sewing needle,” Zeichner says. “Then puncture the blister and apply gentle downward pressure to express the fluid inside of it.” Finish by applying antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid to the area to prevent an infection. Though nobody wants thick or rough skin on the feet, he argues that it serves an important function.
What’s a remedy for sweaty feet?
Levine says sometimes when your feet are super sensitive and get bad irritation from shoes, it could be due to hyperhidrosis, a condition in which a person sweats excessively. If overly sweaty feet is something you deal with, she recommends spraying a fragrance-free topical antiperspirant on them. “If you really have a severe case of hyperhidrosis, Botox can be injected into the foot as well to prevent that,” she says. If you think you may have it, you should see a podiatrist.
How do you care for swollen feet after a long day of walking?
If your feet are swollen and irritated after a long day, Zeichner suggests lying in bed with your legs elevated above two pillows to allow the swelling to improve on its own. “Keep the legs elevated for as long as you need for the swelling to improve by way of gravity. You can sleep with your legs elevated if you need,” he says.
Another thing you can try is a foot bath. Take a big bowl or bucket, fill it with lukewarm water, and add a cup of Epsom salt. Levine says to do it for a half hour and adds you can also rotate between the lukewarm salt water and another foot bath filled with ice water every three to four minutes.
What are some weekly remedies you can do to take care of your feet in general?
Levine recommends moisturizing daily and exfoliating feet twice a week. She suggests adding half a cup of Epsom salt or kosher salt to one or two gallons of warm water and soaking your feet for about 10 minutes. Then, using a loofah, gently rub both feet, concentrating on the areas of excess callus (i.e., areas on your feet where skin has built up). For areas with a particularly thick callus, use a pumice stone.
However, she says, “do not overdo this—it should not be painful. It is better to repeat this in a few days, if needed, than to overdo it. Do not use a blade or other sharp instrument.” Massage your feet gently, starting at the toes and working your way to the ankles. Then rinse your feet in cool or warm water, dry them completely, and take a small amount of baby oil and gently massage it into the skin.