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  1. #1
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    Default Blister on little toe

    WAIT! Before commenting on prevention being the best practice or that blisters are caused by "friction and moisture" or recommending whatever shoe that you like....PLEASE READ MY QUESTION.

    tia!

    I tend to get blisters on my heels and on the inside and end of my little toe. The problem with heels was solved with leukotape. Blisters on my little toe seem to form after about 7-8 miles of hiking on Day 1 and make hiking on subsequent days painful.

    1) What do you do to deal with discomfort of a blister on the inside of your little toe (part next to toe #4)? Here's what I've done so far and it hasn't really helped: 1) wide toebox shoes 2) darn tough socks and thin sock liners 3) small amount of foot powder in the liner 4) tape around the little toe.

    2) Any suggestions about how I might preemptively take precautions that will prevent blisters on the little toe. Should I NOT apply tape but instead apply lubrication (i.e. Vaseline)? Should I tape toes 4 and 5 together?


    I'm wearing Altra Olympus shoes. They are sized appropriately and my foot is stable in them (not slipping in any direction). I have some very good reasons for using them and they really seem to work well and are not the cause of the blisters. I have other issues on this foot (MTP joint replacement) that the Olympus is well suited to address. The MTP joint replacement definitely has subtly altered my gait which could possibly be causing the blister formation on the other toe.

    Looking for some good advice on both dealing with the blister "after the fact" while continuing to hike as well as prevention. Thanks for your help!

    Seakayaker

  2. #2

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    I used to be prone to blisters in some spots where my toes rubbed together until I switched to Injinji toe socks -- that took care of that problem for me.
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    Thanks....I probably should have mentioned that too. I like Injinji toe socks and wear them whenever I put on athletic shoes----so I dig 'em. However, I've also used their toe sock liners and they didn't help with this blister issue---pretty much the same result as with regular sock liners and darn toughs.

    So...I think I'm still looking for something else to try that doesn't involve losing a digit.

  4. #4

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    I don't think lub (Vaseline, Glide, etc.) is going to help for long - too much of a hot mess between the toes. Maybe try a dab of nail polish on each side.

  5. #5
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    You mentioned that tape around the little toe didn't help. What kind of tape did you use? I have had good luck with 3M/Nexcare cushioned waterproof tape.

    Also, perhaps consider trying it around the 4th toe instead? Separating them might help, though I didn't feel Injinji toe socks worked as well for me as did the cushioned tape. They're better than nothing, but on a longer hike, I still get the friction between toes. (I wrap my "ring" toe, but the one it rubs against is not the pinky toe but the middle one).

  6. #6
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    I've been using Leukotape. Seems to adhere well.

    Thanks for the cushioned tape idea a well as taping the 4th toe.

    These are the kind of ideas I'm looking for. Any more out there?



    Quote Originally Posted by Time Zone View Post
    You mentioned that tape around the little toe didn't help. What kind of tape did you use? I have had good luck with 3M/Nexcare cushioned waterproof tape.

    Also, perhaps consider trying it around the 4th toe instead? Separating them might help, though I didn't feel Injinji toe socks worked as well for me as did the cushioned tape. They're better than nothing, but on a longer hike, I still get the friction between toes. (I wrap my "ring" toe, but the one it rubs against is not the pinky toe but the middle one).

  7. #7
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    For decades I suffered with problems similar to yours.
    I tried several different brands and models of footwear. Always professionally fitted. The pros would measure my feet and tell me that I was a size 9.
    I got heel and toe blisters.
    One day recently the lightbulb went on.
    I bought my first pair of backpacking boots from a friend. Well broken in. No blisters ever.
    I remember them being a little larger than I was used to. No blisters!
    They were a size 10.
    Fast forward.
    I joined the Cool Kids Club and switched to Off Trail Runners. Ultra Raptors. Size 9 of course.
    After an all day downhill in the Rockies I had purple toenails that eventually fell of.
    I swapped the size 9 Ultra Raptors for 9 1/2. I wear the thinnest Darn Tough runners socks.
    Problem solved.
    Sorry for being long winded. It took me 40 odd years to get back to where I started.
    A half size larger shoe and thin socks.
    Good luck!
    Wayne

  8. #8
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    I'm wearing size 12 in my Altra Olympus. I usually wear an 11 in other shoes. These have the right amount of room at the end so size isn't the issue. I've been using thin synthetic liner socks and *standard* darn tough hiking socks on top of them.

    Your idea about thinner socks is worth trying. I'll add it to my list. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    For decades I suffered with problems similar to yours.
    I tried several different brands and models of footwear. Always professionally fitted. The pros would measure my feet and tell me that I was a size 9.
    I got heel and toe blisters.
    One day recently the lightbulb went on.
    I bought my first pair of backpacking boots from a friend. Well broken in. No blisters ever.
    I remember them being a little larger than I was used to. No blisters!
    They were a size 10.
    Fast forward.
    I joined the Cool Kids Club and switched to Off Trail Runners. Ultra Raptors. Size 9 of course.
    After an all day downhill in the Rockies I had purple toenails that eventually fell of.
    I swapped the size 9 Ultra Raptors for 9 1/2. I wear the thinnest Darn Tough runners socks.
    Problem solved.
    Sorry for being long winded. It took me 40 odd years to get back to where I started.
    A half size larger shoe and thin socks.
    Good luck!
    Wayne

  9. #9
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Default

    PS:
    The Ultra Raptorís box is labeled size 10 1/2. Go figure.
    My feet tell me that the shoes are size 9 1/2.
    Wayne

  10. #10

    Default

    A couple of thoughts:

    Using tape or some kind of ointment is treating the symptom and likely not the cause. However, unless something mechanical in the shoe, socks, or hiking technique can be identified, it may be the solution of last resort. I would not use ointments, they did not do much for me except making a mess and preventing a bandaid from being applied. I would stick with tape on a clean, dry toe. The problem will be doing the same with the second toe (and subsequent toes if there is casual contact between them) so they don't blister against contact with the taped little toe. Moleskin is good for this, though athletic tape tended to work best over long periods of time when I was having problems.

    Thinner socks, especially at the toe might help, the two layers of socks may be compressing your little toe against the side of the second toe. Even if its occasional minor contact it does not take a lot to raise a blister or two on that sensitive skin. You may need to try several brands and/or models of socks before you find a pair that works as you need them to. Best advice there is to get them from a retailer like REI so you can return the pairs that don't work and exchange them.

    Speaking of retailers, you may find some good advice from people who understand footgear and sock interaction. Several times over the years I have gone to Eastern Mountain Sport or REI to address blistering issues and have had some excellent advice along the way that had nearly instant results.

    If socks are not the issue, there is obviously some kind of movement of your foot/toes in the shoe causing the issue. A different lacing technique may be all that's required to stop the movement, google "Hiking shoe lacing techniques to prevent blisters" and you will find a lot of information, some of it may apply to inter-toe blistering. Pay close attention to how the shoe moves on your feet when on level ground or going up/down a grade and see if there is minor heel movement or the ball of your foot drifts a little, or your larger toes reach the front of the toe box allowing the smaller toes to move or "scrunch up" and change how the foot moves (which sounds like it may be part of the problem).

    How old are the shoes? Over the years I have found some shoes/boots I like start to cause blisters when they are at the end of their useable life. If the shoes are older or have a lot of miles on them, you may want to consider investing in a new pair. You may find moving from trail runners to trail shoes, or trail shoes to mid height boots may provide some relief.

    How old are you? When I reached my mid 50s a bunch of things started happening I was not real pleased with. Heel spurs, hammer toes, and other maladies came along that required a visit with a podiatrist. He has prescribed different orthotics over time to treat these issues without surgery that have worked fairly well. Do not underestimate what a good Podiatrist can do to help your feet.

    How is your technique? Downhills, especially long duration steep terrain is where I found blisters would develop in my toes until I changed my downhill technique. I got a set of trekking poles and used them to help lessen the impact of these downhills, which seemed to help.

    Any one of these or combinations can cause the problem you describe, its difficult to make that assessment by yourself even if good advice is handy. If this issue does not resolve itself in a relatively short period of time with some changes in foot wear, I would recommend a Podiatrist to look at your feet and determine why the little toe wants to do what it does.

    Good luck!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    Thanks....I probably should have mentioned that too. I like Injinji toe socks and wear them whenever I put on athletic shoes----so I dig 'em. However, I've also used their toe sock liners and they didn't help with this blister issue---pretty much the same result as with regular sock liners and darn toughs.
    So...I think I'm still looking for something else to try that doesn't involve losing a digit.
    Injinji makes toe sock liners and other toe socks that are a little thicker. I have two pair of the liners but don't use them much anymore because they're not as effective as the thicker sock.

    My little toe tends to blister because of the way that it fits against the next toe. Instead of laying out flat and straight, it sort of curls, causing more rub there than between other toes. Something to separate them seems to be the answer.

    The other issue is overall tenderness of the skin on my feet. If it's early in the hiking season (like it is now in late March), my feet will get sore on the first day. Later in the season, if I've hiked regularly, my feet get tougher and better able to endure. I'll plan several dayhikes, even if they're just a couple miles, before our next week-long hike.

  12. #12
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    I've been doing all my recent hiking where I live which is in the lowcountry of SC (near Charleston). Zero hills here so there's no uphill or downhill cause.

    I am in my early fifties and had a MTP joint replacement on the problem foot about 6 months ago. This has subtly changed my gait so it could be the cause. Professional orthotics may be in my future but I'd like to avoid that if there's another solution that works.

    I've had this problem with a variety of shoes so I'm convinced that they're not the problem.

    For me, the takeaway from your post is to consider trying different socks and perhaps pay more attention as I'm walking in attempt to better identify the source. Both are good advice and will be done! Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    A couple of thoughts:

    Using tape or some kind of ointment is treating the symptom and likely not the cause. However, unless something mechanical in the shoe, socks, or hiking technique can be identified, it may be the solution of last resort. I would not use ointments, they did not do much for me except making a mess and preventing a bandaid from being applied. I would stick with tape on a clean, dry toe. The problem will be doing the same with the second toe (and subsequent toes if there is casual contact between them) so they don't blister against contact with the taped little toe. Moleskin is good for this, though athletic tape tended to work best over long periods of time when I was having problems.

    Thinner socks, especially at the toe might help, the two layers of socks may be compressing your little toe against the side of the second toe. Even if its occasional minor contact it does not take a lot to raise a blister or two on that sensitive skin. You may need to try several brands and/or models of socks before you find a pair that works as you need them to. Best advice there is to get them from a retailer like REI so you can return the pairs that don't work and exchange them.

    Speaking of retailers, you may find some good advice from people who understand footgear and sock interaction. Several times over the years I have gone to Eastern Mountain Sport or REI to address blistering issues and have had some excellent advice along the way that had nearly instant results.

    If socks are not the issue, there is obviously some kind of movement of your foot/toes in the shoe causing the issue. A different lacing technique may be all that's required to stop the movement, google "Hiking shoe lacing techniques to prevent blisters" and you will find a lot of information, some of it may apply to inter-toe blistering. Pay close attention to how the shoe moves on your feet when on level ground or going up/down a grade and see if there is minor heel movement or the ball of your foot drifts a little, or your larger toes reach the front of the toe box allowing the smaller toes to move or "scrunch up" and change how the foot moves (which sounds like it may be part of the problem).

    How old are the shoes? Over the years I have found some shoes/boots I like start to cause blisters when they are at the end of their useable life. If the shoes are older or have a lot of miles on them, you may want to consider investing in a new pair. You may find moving from trail runners to trail shoes, or trail shoes to mid height boots may provide some relief.

    How old are you? When I reached my mid 50s a bunch of things started happening I was not real pleased with. Heel spurs, hammer toes, and other maladies came along that required a visit with a podiatrist. He has prescribed different orthotics over time to treat these issues without surgery that have worked fairly well. Do not underestimate what a good Podiatrist can do to help your feet.

    How is your technique? Downhills, especially long duration steep terrain is where I found blisters would develop in my toes until I changed my downhill technique. I got a set of trekking poles and used them to help lessen the impact of these downhills, which seemed to help.

    Any one of these or combinations can cause the problem you describe, its difficult to make that assessment by yourself even if good advice is handy. If this issue does not resolve itself in a relatively short period of time with some changes in foot wear, I would recommend a Podiatrist to look at your feet and determine why the little toe wants to do what it does.

    Good luck!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    WAIT! Before commenting on prevention being the best practice or that blisters are caused by "friction and moisture" or recommending whatever shoe that you like....PLEASE READ MY QUESTION.

    tia!

    I tend to get blisters on my heels and on the inside and end of my little toe. The problem with heels was solved with leukotape. Blisters on my little toe seem to form after about 7-8 miles of hiking on Day 1 and make hiking on subsequent days painful.

    1) What do you do to deal with discomfort of a blister on the inside of your little toe (part next to toe #4)? Here's what I've done so far and it hasn't really helped: 1) wide toebox shoes 2) darn tough socks and thin sock liners 3) small amount of foot powder in the liner 4) tape around the little toe.

    2) Any suggestions about how I might preemptively take precautions that will prevent blisters on the little toe. Should I NOT apply tape but instead apply lubrication (i.e. Vaseline)? Should I tape toes 4 and 5 together?


    I'm wearing Altra Olympus shoes. They are sized appropriately and my foot is stable in them (not slipping in any direction). I have some very good reasons for using them and they really seem to work well and are not the cause of the blisters. I have other issues on this foot (MTP joint replacement) that the Olympus is well suited to address. The MTP joint replacement definitely has subtly altered my gait which could possibly be causing the blister formation on the other toe.

    Looking for some good advice on both dealing with the blister "after the fact" while continuing to hike as well as prevention. Thanks for your help!

    Seakayaker
    I would eliminate the liners. When I changed from Darn Tuff to Smartwool PhD socks with the Altra combination my blisters went away and have never come back. 3 hiking seasons now, and about 1200+ miles with no blisters.

    I also would never tape toes together and I would try some body glide for lubrication.
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  14. #14

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    Im going to be condescending and harsh. But only to drive home points

    Get shoes and footbeds that FIT

    You wont have any blisters

    Until you actually listen to advice from people that hike 20-30 mpd for thousands of miles, and have never had blisters, you will wallow in your blisters and half assed remedies.

    Make all the excuses you like. No brand of sock matters.

    Shoes are your most important gear item. Not to be selected lightly. No one in a store can tell you what fits your foot either, its something YOU must tune into and feel. It starts by trying on dozens of prs, at home, where you can wear around for 15 min, compare directly to others

    How much effort you put into footwear selection to date?
    Are you overweight with feet like hams? Shoes arent made for fat feet to be squeezed into. I know some people have no choice......but they should realize their shape contributes to it, its not just" how it is ". Ive seen shoes that appeared stretched to limits, barely able to be tied, where owner needed much wider than they stuffed themself into. Then 2 pr socks and all the related crap follows.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-29-2019 at 11:58.

  15. #15
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    Sure hope your day gets better...



    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Im going to be condescending and harsh.

    Get shoes and footbeds that FIT

    You wont have any blisters

    Until you actually listen to advice from people that hike 20-30 mpd for thousands of miles, and have never had blisters, you will wallow in your blisters and half assed remedies.

    Make all the excuses you like. No brand of sock matters.

    Shoes are your most important gear item. Not to be selected lightly. No one in a store can tell you what fits your foot either, its something YOU must tune into and feel. It starts by trying on dozens of prs, at home, where you can wear around for 15 min, compare directly to others

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    Sure hope your day gets better...
    Sorry, fit....is everything.

    And most people foolishly simply select popular models that they hear others use. It works for some, not everyone.

    Should you really listen to people who say " heres my band-aid for my poor fit? Because you are soliciting just that.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-29-2019 at 12:02.

  17. #17
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    I never said I had a shoe fitting problem. Quite the contrary. Shoe fit is SAT. Thanks anyway. Just looking for some possible solutions to this particular problem. Mine isn't the same as most others due to other issues which I've described.

    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Sorry, fit....is everything.

    And most people foolishly simply select popular models that they hear others use. It works for some, not everyone.

    Should you really listen to people who say " heres my band-aid for my poor fit? Because you are soliciting just that.

  18. #18

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    Primary, and basically only foot blister location on my feet are the inside of the little toes. It's not because of current shoe fit but after decades of previous bad fit where I chose front foot boxes to narrow for my feet. My pinky toes bent under and rub up tightly against the adjacent toe. This had also affected the pinky toe nail. My toes are also extremely long. I dont want a shoe that narrows to point. A wide toe box AND a squared off toe box shape of sufficient length to address the length of all my toes is needed. My 2 and 3 toes are both longer than the big toe.

    Another thing that impacted the pinky as well as 2 and 3 toes(nails, toe tip blisters, and toe tip hot spots) are not having my foot slip forward on descents.

    To prevent the pinky toe inside blisters I've started wearing Injini Merino toe socks. If i have execessive interior shoe volume i may wear a thinner injini toe sock, wool or synthetic, as the liner sock under a SW or DT, etc sock.

    I've also had relief using a flexy gel sleeve around the pinky toe to reduce skin rubbing on skin. This is best done preventively and with using a wide enough toe box. If not you could start getting a hot spot on the outside of the pinky toe and possibly now on the inside of the adjacent toe

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by seakayaker View Post
    I never said I had a shoe fitting problem. Quite the contrary. Shoe fit is SAT. Thanks anyway. Just looking for some possible solutions to this particular problem. Mine isn't the same as most others due to other issues which I've described.
    You get blisters on your heel, and little toe, in trail runners, but continue to disavow that you have a fit problem....

    OK.

    Precisely why im harsh.

    How many pr of shoes have you tried to solve the issue? Zero? Thats my guess.

    Yeah, $120 a pop is expensive to try, thats what running warehouse and zappos are for.

    Fit is more than foot go in the shoe.

    Where does it rub? Where is it tight, where is it loose.

    Where do it rub with swollen feet after 25 mile day?

    When you find nirvana fit, you know it from moment slip new shoe on. The smallest irrtitations get worse with time.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-29-2019 at 12:35.

  20. #20

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    It's a good pt made that you don't want excessively tight and compressed toe box areas from too thick socks or sock layerings but the reverse can happen too. Toes will more around excessively causing blisters too. While i was transitioning to better fitting shoes when my pinky toes were still badly mishapened from improper past shoe fits I thought a loose wider toe box area was the immediate answer. Too much room in the toe box area resulted in too much forefoot and toe movement and more pressure on the pinky toe tip underside that it wasn't accustomed. Now my feet and toes habe splayed out more and the force is more equally balanced on each toe.

    I hope that helps

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