Blisters 3 min read

Which types of shoes are most likely to cause blisters?

Which types of shoes are most likely to cause blisters? Which types of shoes are most likely to cause blisters? Which types of shoes are most likely to cause blisters?

You know the feeling; you’re walking down the street, showing off your new shoes, feeling pretty good about life when the rubbing starts on the back of your heel. At first, you try to pass it off as something that will pass, but before you know it, you realise you have a blister and the pain is unbearable.

While it’s not always possible to prevent blisters, you can at least be aware of the main causes and the types of footwear most likely to be at fault. With that in mind, the team at Compeed UK spoke to Susannah Davda, better known as ‘The Shoe Consultant’, and Rachel Clinkard, Ecommerce Director at footwear retailer Charles Clinkard, to find out more.

What are blisters?

Friction blisters are small pockets of clear fluid under a layer of skin. Blisters can occur when an area of the skin is damaged by friction – so in this case, if a part of your shoe is repeatedly rubbing on a part of your foot. Blisters usually clear up by themselves, but you should get them checked out if there is any sign of infection – if, for example, the area is hot or painful or there is discoloured pus inside the blister.

What types of shoes cause blisters the most?

“Any shoe that doesn’t fit properly can cause blisters. This is because poorly-fitted shoes, particularly those that are too big can slip around on our feet causing friction. Blisters are nature’s little cushions that protect us from deeper damage to our skin,” says Susannah Davda.

When shopping for shoes, make sure they are the right size. You may find that different types of shoes fit slightly differently, so it’s always worth trying them on and walking around to see how they feel.

We know that your shoes should fit well, but are there any shoes which are particularly likely to cause blisters? “Sandals are the type of footwear most likely to cause blisters. This is because they usually have more straps and edges that can rub than closed shoes or boots. Our skin can be quite delicate at the start of the warmer season because our feet have been protected by socks. This means that sandals often rub on their first wear of the year,” Susannah says.

“Some ill-fitting shoes can be more likely to cause blisters than others because of the material they’re made of. Firm materials like leather aren’t as flexible as many other types. That’s why you may find that ill-fitting leather shoes such as loafers tend to cause blisters. Make sure you choose the right size to avoid blisters by measuring your feet (you can have a salesperson do this for you too) and checking there is roughly half an inch gap between the end of your big toe and the end of the shoe. Make sure to pay attention to the width of the shoe as well as the length, as this can have a big impact on foot health too,” adds Rachel Clinkard.

“Like loafers, high heels are also usually made out of firm materials which cause extra friction if you don’t have the right size. So make sure to thoroughly measure your heels before buying to avoid blisters. If you feel your feet sliding inside the heels and often lifting out of the shoe, this is a sign that you’re wearing too big a size. You’ll likely know if you’re wearing a size too small, as you will feel the material cutting into your foot,” she continues.

New shoes which are stiff can cause blisters, which is why people talk about ‘wearing shoes in’. When wearing a new pair of shoes, particularly work shoes, Dr. Martens boots or shoes which have a snug fit, it’s a good idea to wear thick socks and take some blister plasters with you.

If you start to feel a blister forming, you can cushion it with a plaster to protect the area from further damage. You may also want to put a plaster on areas of your feet which are typically prone to blisters, to avoid them forming at all.

What types of activities should you avoid doing in certain shoes?

“When you haven’t worn a pair of shoes for a while, I would recommend wearing them for a short walk at first, rather than committing to a full day or evening in them. This recommendation also applies to brand new shoes,” Susannah says.

Sweaty feet can be more prone to blisters, so wearing well fitted, moisture-wicking socks can help when you’re running or doing other physical activities. Ill fitted socks and socks with holes can also make blisters more likely, so it’s worth investing in good quality, well-fitting socks to suit your various shoes.

What types of shoes should you pick for walking/running/dancing?

“Comfort is paramount when it comes to our enjoyment of any activity. If your shoes fit, don’t rub, and are comfortable underfoot, they allow you to live your life without distraction. Running and high impact forms of dancing require specialist footwear, so do visit a running shop or dancewear store, or ask them for online advice when shopping for those types of shoes,” Susannah says.

Different people have different feet, so it’s worth looking for features that you personally may find helpful – like shoes for overpronation (when your feet go inwards) or high insteps, for example.

What can you do to try and avoid getting blisters when wearing shoes?

“Avoid buying shoes that don’t fit you perfectly from the start. Also don’t expect to be able to “break in” your shoes. In my experience, you are more likely to have to “break in” your feet, and that can be an uncomfortable or even damaging process,” Susannah says.

It’s often a good idea to wear your shoes around the house before taking them outside. If they start to hurt, you’ll be able to prepare yourself with plasters or an Anti Blister Stick before you leave.

“Softer shoe materials like soft leather, nubuck, suede and textiles tend to be better for avoiding blisters compared to harder synthetic materials. I would also recommend wearing socks or shoe liners where possible. Sweat contains tiny salt crystals which can add to the friction between bare feet and shoes, and increase the chance of blisters,” adds Susannah.

“As well as finding the right size, you should also ensure they are laced up well and the strap is the right length for your feet to keep them as secure in the shoe as possible.

“In the summer months, or if you’re wearing a big and heavy pair of boots like Dr. Martens, you may want to apply talcum powder to your feet to keep them dry and avoid extra friction. Make sure to apply the talcum powder between the toes, especially if you’re wearing flip flops. And remember to wear the appropriate socks to keep your feet well padded. For example, Dr. Martens should be paired with well-cushioned and breathable socks,” says Rachel.

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You don’t have to limit your wardrobe to avoid blisters. Making sure your shoes are the right fit and that you’ve taken necessary precautions, like wearing socks or putting talcum powder on your feet can help you keep blisters at bay.

If you have a pair of shoes that cause blisters but you just can’t part with them, you can use plasters such as Compeed to cushion these areas of your feet and protect them from harm.