How can you avoid getting blisters when you're wearing high heels?

How to Keep Blisters at Bay

High-heeled shoes are here to stay, no matter what. In fact, in a recent survey, 73 percent of women admitted to having foot issues related to their shoes. And -- get this -- 42 percent of women admitted they'd continue wearing a favorite shoe even if it gave them discomfort [source: WebMD]. So it's probably safe to say that, even when faced with the prospect of painful blisters, we're not going to start wearing sneakers with our cocktail dresses.

Luckily, you can avoid getting blisters in the first place through some preventative measures. Follow the advice on this page and you may find yourself walking on air.

First, let's talk about shoe shopping. Always buy the right size. You may think your shoe size is a 7 1/2, but shoe sizes aren't as standardized as we might think. A 7 1/2 in one label may be an 8 or 7 in another. Always try the size before and after your regular size to get a better feel for the fit. Shop for shoes in the afternoon -- your feet tend to swell during the course of the day. And remember, your feet can change size as you age. If you're pregnant or have gained or lost significant weight, your shoe size will probably change as well.

The better your shoes fit, the less your foot will rub or slide around -- which is what causes a blister in the first place. Never buy shoes that are uncomfortable from the get-go. We all say we can "break in" a pair of shoes, but that rarely works. Sometimes you can slightly stretch out shoes by wearing them around the house in socks. But we suggest you ensure the shoes are comfy right in the store. You shouldn't be able to walk out of them, and they shouldn't tightly constrict your foot, either. Much like Goldilocks' motto, they should be "just right."

If you don't need the heels to go sky-high, then don't. Experts recommend a 3-inch heel or lower. This height allows for better weight distribution and doesn't pitch your foot in a way that shoves it forward in the shoe. Also, look for shoes with straps, laces or ties. You can adjust the fit of the shoe throughout the day -- tighter in the morning, looser in the evening.

If you're already suffering from a blister, use a bandage or moleskin to protect it. Many brands carry bandages sized and shaped especially for high heeled and strappy shoes. Likewise, if you have a "problem area" that always seems to blister, nip it in the bud and place a moleskin or bandage on the area you're worried about.

Moisture is also big culprit in the formation of blisters. You can keep your feet dry by using powder or, in extreme cases, an anti-perspirant.

If, for whatever reason, you think blisters are unavoidable, try some of these measures. Take a page from runners and hikers. Use petroleum jelly or a similar lubricant wherever you think a blister is likely to form or has already formed. The lubrication will prevent further painful friction.

If your feet are sliding forward in your shoes, causing the shoe to rub against your heel as you walk, try some insoles or heel cushions. These keep your feet firmly in your shoes, eliminating rubbing and friction. Another thing to remember -- nobody's feet are the exact same size. One may be slightly bigger or wider than the other, leading to one normal foot and one blistered foot. Grippy insoles and heel cushions can help alleviate this problem for the ill-fitting foot.

For more about shoes and foot care, check out the links below. We'll see you on the catwalk!

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "Blisters: First Aid." Jan. 11, 2008. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • Bouchez, Colette. "Tips to Avoid Foot Pain from High Heels." WebMD. 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • "Foot and Heel Conditions." Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine. July 16, 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • "The High Heel-a-Thon in NYC!" Running With Heels. July 11, 2008. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • "How to Prevent Chafing and Blisters." The Walking Site. 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • Krieger, Liz. "Bye-Bye Blisters. Hello Happy Feet!" Simply Stated. May 28, 2008. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • "O's Ultimate Shoe-Buying Guide." Oprah Magazine. 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • "SheFinds Solution: How To Survive Your High Heels." 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • Vonhof, John. "Blister Prevention." Fixing Your Feet. 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)
  • Wexler, Suzanne. "Heels: Women follow men in high-stepping fashion." The Vancouver Sun. Sept. 28, 2009. (Sept. 29, 2009)

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