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Blister under callous on heel - do I ditch my shoes??

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cathyke50

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (St Jean to Belorado; Astorga to Santiago)
Just done 10 days on the Camino Frances in my new hiking shoes (Merrell MQM Flex). I'd worn them for months beforehand, including hiking for four days in the Lake District (UK) - all fine. However, by Day 6 on the Camino, I'd developed a blister on the inside of one heel (under the callous). The rest of both feet were absolutely fine - the problem is around the heel. I assume it didn't show up before because I hadn't walked so many days consecutively, and wasn't carrying the same backpack (6kg on the Camino, incl water).

My question is - do I ditch the shoes? Try thicker socks? Try an insole? Is there a special device that deals with heel problems?!

Many thanks, Camino friends!
 

martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018
Compeed is dangerous if you do not really know what you are doing... and you probably do not really know it if you have to ask in a forum.
If there is a problem that does not get "healed" with compeed... the blister can grow under the compeed... and you cannot remove the compeed because it sticks so tightly. If you have to remove it (e.g. to handle an infection)... you changed a small problem into a big one.
compare for example:

I had small blister problems with my toe and later on with my heel. I taped both blisters with a small piece of a toe blister protection (the "tube" on my foot)... I put the soft "inside" of the toe-protection piece (that I had cut off the tube) on the blister and fixed the small piece with normal tape on my small blister. You can try this if the blister is small and your shoes are "big enough". If your shoes are too small / too narrow it will not help... but at least you can remove it without making anything worse.

You can try some of these tips as long as you have problems: Walking slower, walking less far each day, more rests, using poles, less weight (e.g. backpack transport), different socks, different insoles, other shoes (e.g. if you have sandals in your backpack anyway) for some time.

You can upload a photo of your blister... then maybe the online help of the other pilgrims can be more precise because there are many different forms of blisters.

If I would be on day 10 of my camino and the blister problems are not worse then you mentioned... I would ditch my shoes only if other things will not help...
 

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Compeed won't help, unless the blister is de-roofed - and unless you know how to use it properly.
We can offer our opinions, but without seeing the blister or having any more than our own experience, what you'll get back will be confusing and contradictory.
I suggest you go to this excellent site for professional information about how to treat blisters:
 

cathyke50

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (St Jean to Belorado; Astorga to Santiago)
Thanks v much for this advice! I'm now home (I was only walking for 10 days in total; planning to come back next year for another 10 days) and left the blister intact - it is now slowly subsiding, and I'm using a donut made of moleskin to protect it.

My concern is now about the future - can I wear these shoes for my next section of the camino next year - knowing that they gave me a blister? Thicker socks (shoes too big around the heel?)/taping the spot on my heel? Or new shoes?
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
Prevention is always best and my suggestions are really just short term bandaids to get keep you moving. I had something similar this last year as I entered Galicia on the outside portion of my heal. Finding shoes that fit BOTH of my feet for all of the strange turns my feet and toes make is a challenge; wide poi pounder toe box with narrow heels. My left foot is about a half size smaller than my right foot so if I get blisters they are almost on my left foot as it may tend to have more movement in the footwear. I would be careful about using any noticeable new device in your shoe unless you are doing it with the other as you may start to notice pain or discomfort with your body adjusting to the new imbalance and variable. Be careful with inserts, particularly gel type as some of them will increase moisture in your shoe dramatically especially if you are using footwear with a waterproof membrane. The extra/thicker sock may but you should be careful about excessive moisture build up with it as well particularly in.

My remedy was to put a double strip of physio-tape to reduce any friction to the skin. Something similar that has a fabric type protection would work I suppose but for my feet I need something durable. Leukotape is something that I've used in the past as well and should be available in the pharmacies. Making small cuts on the sides of the tape if it needs to form around the heal with as much continuity as possible. Big seams or folds or bunched up tape can potentially lead to other discomfort.

If I hadn't had the physio-tape I would have happily used the duct tape that I keep a few strips for various potential repairs. I only do this direct method if the skin isn't broken, otherwise I would use a piece of sterile gauze and some form of medical tape and not use duct tape unless it's an emergency. The gauze could be a good addition anyway to provide a little bit of cushion if the pressure of the blister is too much.

My least favorite type of blister as it is really hard to express the liquid to reduce the pressure. It could be a benefit to seek professional assistance at a local clinic in one of the villages for them to have a peek and treat.
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
Thanks v much for this advice! I'm now home (I was only walking for 10 days in total; planning to come back next year for another 10 days) and left the blister intact - it is now slowly subsiding, and I'm using a donut made of moleskin to protect it.

My concern is now about the future - can I wear these shoes for my next section of the camino next year - knowing that they gave me a blister? Thicker socks (shoes too big around the heel?)/taping the spot on my heel? Or new shoes?
I would try to work on the footwear. Mitigating all other treatments through better fitting footwear will cut down on your prep time every morning. I'm sure you have seen the varying foot prep across this forum and around the net; the minimum you have to do and have happy feet is the best. My left foot needs special armor my right foot just some light form of lubrication/anti-friction and on shorter days needs nothing at all other than a potential change of socks.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
My concern is now about the future - can I wear these shoes for my next section of the camino next year - knowing that they gave me a blister? Thicker socks (shoes too big around the heel?)/taping the spot on my heel? Or new shoes?
First I'd say troll through that blister prevention website for information. It's a super resource, and I envy people who live in Melbourne because they can actually get a consultation with the podiatrist who writes this blog.

And then start to experiment. Tape the heel, or wear thicker socks, or add something in the shoe to reduce friction (engo patches, for example). Do one thing at a time and see if any of them work. If not then try two at a time. And If nothing works, ditch the shoes.
The things that work may seem counter-intuitive. But if they works, trust that.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Thanks v much for this advice! I'm now home (I was only walking for 10 days in total; planning to come back next year for another 10 days) and left the blister intact - it is now slowly subsiding, and I'm using a donut made of moleskin to protect it.

My concern is now about the future - can I wear these shoes for my next section of the camino next year - knowing that they gave me a blister? Thicker socks (shoes too around the heel?)/taping the spot on my heel? Or new shoes?
It may be nothing to do with your shoes. You say the blister is under the callus on your heel, do you have a lot of hard, thick skin there? That will cause blisters on its own if you walk long distances on it no matter what shoes you wear. I'd suggest two things, first of all, once the blister has healed completely see a podiatrist becuase they may suggest grinding down the thick skin if it's very hard or cracked. That's worth doing a week or so before you go on another long walk too. Second, you can buy heel pads rather than full footbeds, My Mr uses them because he has very bony heels and says they make a big difference to general comfort.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
My concern is now about the future
I'm glad you managed to complete your planned walk, and have this opportunity to figure things out. I agree with @Moorwalker that the more important problem might be your callus. Everyone's skin responds differently, and some callus and toughening of the skin can be acceptable. However, it shouldn't be to the point where the callus is causing sheer friction with the underlying layers of skin. You say it is "on your heel" but is that the back, side or bottom of your heel?

It is worth getting a podiatrist's advice.
 

Penbaysail

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
More inclined to blame the callus build-up rather than your shoes. The thick skin increased the shearing force leading to skin separation, i.e. blistering. Once your foot has recovered, and you’ve sanded down the excess skin thickness, you might place paper bandage tape on the site and rub in a skin lubricant (Body Glide) onto the tape to make it slippery. Then proceed with your usual socks, typically a liner & outer sock. Good luck
 

TatiLie

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues Variante Espiritual July 2019
Finisterre next!
My husband had a blister under a callous skin on the side of his heel caused by a fold on the socks. Against all my advise he cut it open after a couple of days and it stopped hurting. I'm not advising you do to it, just saying his experience.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Having had poor experience with Merrel (as a brand) I no longer buy them. But my question is how much inner sole padding do these shoes have? My experience is that it is very poor. Now how to treat your problem - take a day off, let the blisters etc dry out. If necessary visit one of the "camino clinics" and get professional advice. I have not any happy experience with Compeed so do not recommend it. In 2017 my "camino daughter" put me on to one of the sports tape (you see footballers and athletes using it). I put it over a "hot spot" well before the blisters developed and it was very good. Best of luck.

Follow up : I have just found the tape box. Its called Kinesiology tape, comes in blue, red or pink colours. It can be worn in the shower - changed mine about every two or three days until the hot spot was no longer an issue. Cheers
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2012, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011
First I'd say troll through that blister prevention website for information. It's a super resource, and I envy people who live in Melbourne because they can actually get a consultation with the podiatrist who writes this blog.
I smiled when I saw this. Rebecca works in Esperance, WA. I suppose it would be somewhere in the order of 3000 km from Melbourne, probably just a bit far to pop down to visit her at her practice.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francé 2005; 2016
Inglés June 2017
del Salvador Sep 2018
Primitivo Oct 2018
Hola! Cathyke50
Ouch! That's in a bad place (where is a good place for a blister/s?) But on the heel, under callous, not easy.
If you are to continue - without a serious pause/rest (four-five days), to ease you along the way and give your foot a bit of a rest, may I suggest you buy a crutch at a chemists? I got a new one for 7€ in Pamplona - and get a pad to gently scrape the callous away whilst treating the blister, and a lint cloth bandage to pad it out a bit. Try adjusting your bootlace fitting and tension too. Also, regularly bathing your foot in cold water. When you have relief and can walk normally then keep that callous under control. I prefer two thin pairs of socks - the first pair take the wear and tear abrassion from walking long distances, the second are like a cushion.
The crutches are light and easy to handle, with a plastic forearm support and alu pole. Get the chemist to set it at the right possition for you.
There are plenty of knee-foot-hip injured pilgrims along the way. If you don't want to take the crutch home when you are healed, then let an injured pilgrim have it. I'm sure you'll find one. I hope this helps and you find relief from the pain.
Good luck and Buen Camino.
Keith
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
@cathyke50 I haven't seen the blister or where it is but personally I *always* get pressure blisters along the edge of the heel on both feet when I go for a good long walk. They tend to come on after a week or so, no matter the temperature or terrain or shoes or socks, and no matter if I file down the hard skin or add paper tape or vaseline or whatever I do. They are deep, sometimes they get blood in them too and they are not nice to walk on. If they get too bad I open them (ducks for criticism) with curved nail scissors so they can't close and fill up again, then disinfect and bandage thoroughly and carry on walking until they dry out and stop hurting. That said, I hope you see a doc about advice and I hope you avoid them next time!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
If you are to continue - without a serious pause/rest (four-five days), to ease you along the way and give your foot a bit of a rest, may I suggest you buy a crutch at a chemists?
She's already back home. I believe that the question of whether or not to ditch the shoes is for future walks.
Thanks v much for this advice! I'm now home (I was only walking for 10 days in total; planning to come back next year for another 10 days)
 

Raymond McKenna

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk entire camino frances commencing 8th July from St john
Prevention if possible is best.
I cover my feet in Vaseline and wear Armaskin socks. Have walked 800 km and no blisters with this method.
 

AndreaCT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2016 Camino Frances to Leon
Fall 2017 Camino Frances to Finisterre
May 2019 Portuguese
The only other thing that I will add to this is that callous on the heel (back and sides) can often build up when one wears sandals. I don't know if this pertains to you or not, but if you were wearing sandals prior to your trip, this could have been part of the problem. If you weren't, you can ignore this advice. I often had to ask patients (diabetics and foot wounds) to reduce their sandal wear and to daily moisturize their feet to reduce callous build-up in summer from sandal use. I saw many blisters under callous. Good luck for your next walk!
 

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