The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (2023)

To put it simply: Dealing with blisters is an actual pain. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that blisters are those red, raised areas that look like bubbles and occur mostly on the feet for us runners. Located on the upper layer of skin, they often fill with fluid and may also hurt or itch.

Many runners incur them during races, especially marathons, due to prolonged friction between your skin and sock or shoe. But blisters can pop up at any time, including during training runs. Non-running footwear can be to blame, as well.

While most blisters don’t pose a serious health risk, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. A painful blister can sideline a runner—or worse, get infected, especially if you use an unsanitary needle to pop it. Here’s a complete guide to blisters and our picks for the best products to treat and prevent them.

The Expert: To gain insight into what causes blisters and how to prevent them, we spoke with Dr. Jordan Metzl, a long-time marathoner and sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Metzl is the author of three books on sports medicine, exercise, and running. He’s also the creator of the Ironstrength Workout, a functional fitness program for runners.

What Causes Blisters?

Friction leads to annoying, painful blisters. The culprits are usually our socks, shoes, or both rubbing against our skin. Anything that intensifies rubbing can start a blister, including a faster pace, poor-fitting shoes, and foot abnormalities, such as bunions, heel spurs, and hammertoes. Heat and moisture intensify friction by causing your feet to swell.

Blisters commonly pop up during races or long runs when mileage is increased and friction occurs without intervention. Your body responds to this friction by producing fluid, which builds up beneath the skin that’s being rubbed.

Since moisture is also a factor, races are the perfect breeding ground for blisters: You’re sweating more by running faster and longer, sloshing through water stations, and if the weather is warm, possibly pouring water over your head.

How to Prevent Blisters

To stop blisters before they even start to form, Dr. Metzl recommends making sure you’re wearing running shoes in the right size. And before you run, coat risky areas with products that dry out your skin, such as baby powder or anti-chafing powder, to minimize the effects of sweating. You can also use a lubricant such as Vaseline or anti-chafing balm to ease pain caused by rubbing.

Shoes that are too small will cause blisters under the toenails or on the tops or tips of the toes. There should be a thumb’s width of space between the toes and the end of the toe box. Pay attention to your socks, too: They should fit without bunching up at your toes or slipping down your heels, which are common blister hot spots.

If you suspect your shoes don’t fit, consult with your local running store to have an expert help you find your size via a virtual or in-person fitting, or look for socks with reinforced heels and toes to help reduce friction.

How to Treat Blisters

If you have a large blister that’s big, nasty, even purple, and it’s affecting how your toes bend, give it a day or two to shrink, says Metzl. If it doesn’t improve, you might need to have your doctor pop it in the office under sterile conditions so it doesn’t get infected.

If you have a small blister that’s not prohibiting your movement, as tempting as it is to touch it, just leave it alone. “When the skin and the membrane of the skin are compromised by popping the blister, all of the bacteria that live on the skin normally can invade and could cause inflammation or an infection right away,” Metzl says.

You could end up making a very small problem much bigger by puncturing the barrier. You should also leave small blood blisters intact, too. Otherwise, you risk getting bacteria in your bloodstream. Cover it up so the swelling goes down, then try to fix the problem that caused it. Here are some methods to treat small blisters:

  • Cut a hole the size of the blister in the middle of a piece of moleskin
  • Place the moleskin over the blister and cover with gauze
  • Let the blister dry out and heal on its own, or try covering the blister with a waterproof pad

If you absolutely must pop a blister (for example, if you’re traveling and can’t see your doctor), use caution. Metzl suggests cleaning the area and needle with soap and water and following with an antibiotic ointment. Then be sure to clean the area regularly to prevent infection.

One more note: A blister under a nail is best treated by a professional. You never want to deliberately remove the toenail.

How We Selected These Blister Treatments and Products

Following the advice of Dr. Metzl, we selected the products here based on their ability to prevent blisters, ease the discomfort and pain of blisters, and/or treat them after they’ve formed. We not only took the effectiveness of these products into account, but we also assessed them for their convenience and value. Most, if not all, were tested and used by editors and writers on the Runner’s World staff; for those we didn’t use personally, we relied on word-of-mouth input and online reviews. Here are our top picks for not only treating and minimizing blister pain but also for trying to prevent blisters before they happen.

Best Solitary Toe Confinement

INJINJI RUN LIGHTWEIGHT NO-SHOW SOCKS

Materials: 34% nylon, 32% polyester, 32% mohair wool, 2% elastane
Blister Prevention: Separating toes to prevent friction

Injinji Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Socks

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (1)

Injinji Injinji Run Lightweight No-Show Socks
Pros
  • Cozy fabric
  • Don’t slip off your heel
  • Lightweight
  • Allow toes independent movement
Cons
  • Not good for cold months

Isolate your toes to prevent friction by wearing technical toe socks. Injinji’s are lightweight and allow your feet to splay thanks to the five-toe design. A heel cuff protects your Achilles, and the nylon-polyester blend wicks away sweat. The socks are light and breathable, with just the right amount of cushion to not feel cramped or hot during warm months.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Most Luxurious-Feeling Blister Guards

BALEGA BLISTER RESIST NO-SHOW SOCKS

(Video) How To Treat A Blister Correctly (First, Look At Your Blister Roof)

Materials: 34% nylon, 32% polyester, 32% mohair wool, 2% elastane
Blister Protection: Seamless toe and heel tab to prevent rubbing

Balega socks have a soft, luxurious mohair feel to them that justifies their price and grants them instant race-day-sock status. This no-show “blister-resistant” pair boasts a generous tab to prevent the back of your shoe from rubbing against your heel, and a seamless toe construction that fights hot spots. They’ve got just enough cushion to feel comfy without overcrowding, and a thinner band that holds the socks close to your arch so they won’t shift around inside your shoe.

Best Targeted Cushion Sock

BOMBAS PERFORMANCE RUNNING MERINO ANKLE SOCKS

Materials: 51% wool, 45% nylon, 4% spandex
Blister Prevention: High cuffs and quick-drying merino

Bombas Bombas Performance Running Merino Ankle Socks

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (3)

Bombas Bombas Performance Running Merino Ankle Socks
Pros
  • Prevent rubbing against collar and heel
  • Cozy merino fabric
Cons
  • Pricey

Bombas’s running socks have a heel cuff to prevent irritation from collar rubbing, and a front cuff to shield your skin from tongue friction. The socks are also contoured and cushioned, and made from lightweight, quick-drying, and ultra-breathable merino, with a seamless toe. If you prefer a taller cuff, Bombas also sells the same model in a merino quarter crew for $18.

Buy Men’s Buy Women’s

Best Full-Body Blister Prevention

BODY GLIDE ORIGINAL ANTI-CHAFE BALM

Ingredients: Allergen-free, plant-derived ingredients; vegan approved; never tested on animals; child safe
Blister Prevention: Minimizes the rubbing and friction that causes blisters

Body Glide Body Glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (4)

Body Glide Body Glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm

Now 51% Off

Pros
  • Prevents thigh chafe or “chub rub”
  • Easy to apply anywhere
Cons
  • Can dry out if you keep it for too long
(Video) Top 10 Blister Treatments to buy in USA | Price & Review

If you’re prone to blisters that aren’t limited to your feet, Body Glide is the best way to make those skin-on-skin or skin-on-fabric contact points free from friction. It comes in a convenient anti-chafe balm stick you can buy in various sizes from .35 to 2.5 ounces, making it packable for travel and easy to pocket on a run. The balm isn’t wet or greasy, and it keeps pores clog-free.

Best Excuse for a Pre-race Foot Massage

BODY GLIDE FOOT GLIDE ANTI-CHAFE BALM

Ingredients: Infused with vitamins A and C; allergen-free, plant-derived ingredients; footwear safe
Blister Prevention: Minimizes the rubbing and friction that causes blisters on feet

We’re longtime fans of Body Glide for protection from chafing, blisters, and other friction woes. The recently introduced Foot Glide provides essentially the same relief, but with apricot oil and leaf extracts thrown in to soften skin and reduce inflammation, which can alleviate hot spots and raw skin from your foot rubbing against your shoe. This one also comes in an even smaller .35-ounce tube, which is easy to stow in a pocket or hydration pack for midrun re-ups.

Best Soft, Anti-Chafe Formula

MEGABABE THIGH RESCUE

Ingredients: Aloe, pomegranate seed oil, orange oil, vitamin E; free of aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates
Blister Prevention: Minimizes the rubbing and friction that causes blisters

Megababe Megababe Thigh Rescue Anti-Chafe Stick

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (6)

Megababe Megababe Thigh Rescue Anti-Chafe Stick

$20 at Amazon

(Video) Foot Blister Treatment - Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid Using Compeed
Pros
  • Comes in a small travel size
  • Feels soft on skin
Cons
  • Pricey by volume

Megababe’s Thigh Rescue is another preventative product you can slather on blister-prone areas, including (but not limited to) your inner thighs. The convenient stick—which comes in a regular and tiny travel size—has a formula that swipes on a bit creamier and more moisturizing-feeling than Body Glide. Although the product wasn’t made with running in mind, it’s highly effective against chafing of all sweat-related sorts, thanks to lightly fragrant and skin-softening active ingredients that include vitamin E, aloe, pomegranate seed oil, and orange oil. (Note: It’s also available in a fragrance-free version.)

Best Customizable Blister Shield

DR. SCHOLL’S MOLESKIN PLUS PADDING ROLL

Materials: Soft cotton flannel padding
Blister Prevention: Forms a protective layer between blisters and socks

Dr. Scholl's Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (7)

Dr. Scholl's Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll

Now 21% Off

Pros
  • Cut it to any size or shape
  • Stays put
Cons
  • Not very padded

This cotton and foam moleskin roll is perfect for shielding blisters, calluses, and bunions so they can heal instead of continuing to worsen or cause pain. Simply cut a piece down to any size and apply to the area—or areas—on your foot that are prone to hot spots while running. The tape is thin enough that you won’t notice it’s on, but it provides a tough protective barrier. If you want something with more padding, check out the Molefoam strips below.

Effective Post-Blister Cover

KT TAPE PERFORMANCE+ BLISTER TREATMENT PATCH

Materials: Composite
Blister Protection: Gel patch covers irritated skin

KT Tape KT Tape Performance+ Blister Treatment Patch

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (8)

KT Tape KT Tape Performance+ Blister Treatment Patch
Pros
  • Generous size to cover big blisters
  • Somewhat waterproof
(Video) AVOID BLISTERS WHEN HIKING // Leukotape can prevent and treat hotspots and blisters on the trail
Cons
  • Don’t stay put in the shower

Protect blisters and ease pain with this hydrocolloid gel patch, which has a waterproof seal and is hypoallergenic and latex-free. The box comes with six patches and each is big enough to cover a blister the size of a large coin. KT Tape says the patch is durable enough to last up to seven days on the affected area; we found them to be water-resistant enough to stay put while running in sweaty conditions, but they peeled off in the shower.

TikTok-Famous Skin Protection

BAND-AID HYDRO SEAL BLISTER TOES

Materials: Composite
Blister Protection: Gel pad covers irritated skin

Band-Aid Band-Aid Hydro Seal Adhesive Bandages For Toe Blisters

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (9)

Band-Aid Band-Aid Hydro Seal Adhesive Bandages For Toe Blisters
Pros
  • Strong adhesive
  • Cover your blister while it heals
  • Prevents dirt and germs from getting in
Cons
  • Hard to remove

These sleek gel pads are dedicated little toe guards. The waterproof bandage wraps around your toe, keeps the cushioning in place, and seals out dirt and germs. The sticky adhesive is powerful and stays put for a few days, even on sweaty feet. For those planning to buy them for non-blister purposes, just take recent TikTok claims that hydrocolloid bandages will eliminate acne with a grain of salt—they might lessen some inflammation, but treatments like ​​benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid are generally more effective.

Softer Blister Pad

DR. SCHOLL’S MOLEFOAM 2 STRIPS

Materials: Cotton padding
Blister Prevention: Forms a padded, protective layer between blisters and socks

Dr. Scholl’s Dr. Scholl’s Molefoam 2 Strips

The 10 Best Blister Treatment and Prevention Products (10)

Dr. Scholl’s Dr. Scholl’s Molefoam 2 Strips
Pros
  • Cut it to any size or shape
  • Stays put
Cons
  • Can be too thick

If moleskin isn’t gentle enough to pad your painful blisters and calluses, try these cotton molefoam strips, which are more than twice as soft and thick. They’re easy to cut to any size you need. Once placed, the adhesive stays put and the foam patch provides a soft barrier between your foot and friction from your shoe.

FAQs

What is the best blister treatment? ›

Here's how:
  • Wash your hands and the blister with soap and warm water.
  • Swab the blister with iodine.
  • Clean a sharp needle with rubbing alcohol.
  • Use the needle to prick the blister in several spots near the edge. ...
  • Apply an ointment such as petroleum jelly to the blister and cover it with a nonstick gauze bandage.

What is the best blister prevention? ›

How to prevent and treat blisters
  • Protect your feet. To prevent blisters on your feet, wear nylon or moisture-wicking socks. ...
  • Wear the right clothing. ...
  • Consider soft bandages. ...
  • Apply powder or petroleum jelly to problem areas. ...
  • Stop your activity immediately if you experience pain or discomfort, or if your skin turns red.

What products help with blisters? ›

Best for preventing blisters
  • Dr. Scholl's Moleskin Plus Padding Roll. ...
  • Dr. ...
  • ProFoot Toe Pouches Wraparound Gel Cushion. ...
  • Body Glide. ...
  • Gold Bond Medicated Cornstarch Plus Baby Powder. ...
  • Injinji Run Lightweight No Show Socks. ...
  • Neosporin Original Antibiotic Ointment. ...
  • Nexcare Active Waterproof Bandages, Assorted Sizes.
25 Feb 2020

Does Vaseline stop blisters? ›

Use Vaseline

Many blisters are caused by friction, whether that be skin on skin or fabric on skin. By applying a generous amount of Vaseline to any problem areas of the foot (or other part of the body), you will reduce the friction and therefore reduce your risk of developing blisters.

Is Vaseline good for blisters? ›

Vaseline

Plain petroleum jelly is a favorite among dermatologists for the treatment of wounds. Although the blister itself will act as a covering for the wound, if it happens to break, a person can cover the area with Vaseline and a bandage. This may promote healing of the area.

Do silicone socks prevent blisters? ›

The inner surface of the sock has a silicone (Si) polymer friction coating which gently adheres to the skin and PREVENTS any FRICTION that can occur naturally between socks and skin. Any friction generated in the boot/shoe is absorbed by the outer fabric.

Does ice help blisters? ›

A cold or ice pack may help reduce swelling and discomfort. Keep the area clean and dry. Do not burst or puncture the blister. If the blister bursts, place a bandage or dressing on the area to keep it clean.

What causes a blister? ›

Blisters are most often caused by skin being damaged by friction or heat. Certain medical conditions also cause blisters to appear. The damaged upper layer of skin (epidermis) tears away from the layers beneath and fluid (serum) collects in the space to create a blister.

Does blister prevention tape work? ›

In a new study, Lipman and colleagues report that inexpensive paper tape, the kind available at most drugstores, when applied to blister-prone areas prior to exercise, successfully reduced the incidence of foot blisters in those areas. The tape, commonly referred to as surgical tape, is used for wound treatment.

How do u get rid of blisters? ›

Drain it
  1. Wash your hands and the blister. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. ...
  2. Disinfect a needle with alcohol. Dip a needle in rubbing alcohol to disinfect it.
  3. Carefully puncture the blister. Poke three or four shallow holes around the edge of the blister. ...
  4. Cover the blister with ointment. ...
  5. Apply a dressing. ...
  6. Repeat.

Which socks prevent blisters? ›

Cotton fabrics often stick to your feet while they absorb sweat, increasing friction that leads to blisters. But polyester, spandex, and silicone socks give your feet a smooth and sweat-free space to prevent any blisters.

Should you cover a blister or let it breathe? ›

To protect your blister from becoming infected, a pharmacist can recommend a plaster or dressing to cover it while it heals. A hydrocolloid dressing (a moist dressing) can protect the blister, help reduce pain and speed up healing.

Should you let blisters breathe? ›

Try not to pop or drain it. Leave it uncovered or cover loosely with a bandage. Try not to put pressure on the area. If the blister is in a pressure area such as the bottom of the foot, put a donut-shaped moleskin on it.

What is the fluid in a blister? ›

The clear, watery liquid inside a blister is called serum. It leaks in from neighboring tissues as a reaction to injured skin. If the blister remains unopened, serum can provide natural protection for the skin beneath it. Small blisters are called vesicles.

Does Aloe heal blisters? ›

Try Pure Aloe Vera Gel for Blisters on Feet

Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory, which means it helps relieve redness and swelling. Plus it's very hydrating, and keeping skin moist helps it heal faster, especially once the blister pops on its own and shrivels up.”

What is better than moleskin for blisters? ›

Athletic tape and duct tape are two options- some people tape directly over a hot spot or unpopped blister but I think it's best to tape over top of moleskin or gauze or even a piece of toilet paper. You can even apply duct tape to the inside of your boots to eliminate rough spots that might cause blisters.

What shoes should I wear with blisters? ›

Soft leather, particularly at points touching the heels and toes, can significantly reduce the frequency of blisters and other hot spots. And any shoe, from a spindly heel to a cushy hiking boot, should get more pliable as you break it in.

Should you cover a blister or let it breathe? ›

Treating blisters

If the blister does burst, don't peel off the dead skin. Instead, allow the fluid inside the blister to drain and cover the area with a dry, sterile dressing to protect it from infection until it heals.

Should I cover a blister at night? ›

Leave it uncovered or cover loosely with a bandage. Try not to put pressure on the area. If the blister is in a pressure area such as the bottom of the foot, put a donut-shaped moleskin on it.

Can you put antibiotic ointment on a blister? ›

3. Although not necessary, blisters may be covered with a band- aid or other bandage. 4. Although not necessary, you can use an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin (triple antibiotic ointment, polysporin (double antibiotic ointment, or Vaseline (petroleum jelly).

What does an infected blister look like? ›

Check if you have a blister

Blood blisters may look red or black and are filled with blood instead of clear fluid. An infected blister can be hot and filled with green or yellow pus. The surrounding skin may look red, but this can be hard to see on darker skin tones.

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