Care and Feeding of Feet


Liberal applications of rubbing alcohol, applied in the morning and evening, will help toughen your feet. Alcohol will not make the foot and leg musculature any stronger — only walking will do that — but it will tighten and toughen the skin, making it less sooner to hot spots and blisters.

I continue using alcohol, along with food powder, while on a trek. I remove hiking boots and socks at every rest stop — usually once hourly. A few drops of alcohol serve to dry and cool my feet, as well as continuing the toughening process. This is followed by a sprinkle or two of foot powder and, if I think it necessary, a change of socks.

Alcohol and powder are transported in small plastic bottles. Such containers are available in specialty shops, but I stand mine from Friend Wife. Originally they held her contact lens cleaning stuff. The nozzle in those containers is especially useful controlling the amount of alcohol dispensed, but has to be removed from the powder bottle.

There is a tough-it-out school of thought that says to leave footwear alone. Those in this school put on their socks and hiking boots in the morning, and do not take them off until nightfall. That would never work for me. I believe the old adage: "when the going gets tough, the tough get blisters." Sooner or later, all those macho types get blisters. It can not be helped if you refuse to minister to a hot spot. Hot spots, left untreated, very quickly bloom into full-fledged blisters. Even worse than blisters that balloon on the surface are those deep ones in heel or ball of foot that can actually incapacitate you.

At the slightest sign of a hot spot — long before the area even turns red — I start treatment.

First, check for any obvious cause, such as a wrinkle or rucked up sock, and correct it. Worn areas (you know, almost, but not quite, a hole) are no different than wrinkles, and such socks should be discarded.

Next I clean and cool the area with a liberal use of rubbing alcohol, and make sure it is thoroughly dry. The alcohol, by the way, because of its rapid evaporation rate, contributes to the drying process as well as cooling your feet.

I then cut a piece of moleskin slightly larger than the sensitized area, making sure to bevel the edges.