Q+A: I have blisters between my toes. Help!

Our experts answer real-life questions

Posted: 9 September 2000
by Gareth Bamsey

Q I’ve developed a recurring blister between my big toe and the one next to it. I’ve tried taping up the area and also using petroleum jelly, all to no avail. It’s now making me miss training.

A As you’ve discovered, petroleum jelly is not durable enough to overcome the mechanical stresses that occur between your toes. And while taping didn’t solve your problem anyway, it may also have restricted circulation and the movement of the most important joint for propulsion in the foot.

There may be a number of reasons for your problem, but my first suggestion would be to separate the toes with an ‘inter-digital wedge’. I have treated patients in this way using Ortoform, a putty-like material which dries in minutes into a rubbery, custom-shaped removable insert. It works well, and any good podiatrist should be able to provide this product and mould it for you.

Gareth Bamsey, podiatrist and chiropodist at the Cardiff Foot Clinic

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I have just come back from a 'long' run, took off my trainers to find 4 huge blisters across the tops of my toes. I now can't get my shoes on nevermind walk or run! Anyone have any good ideas of how to deal with blisters so that I can keep training - plasters don't work!! I am meant to be running the robin hood half marathon in two weeks and am not up to scratch with my training as it is, so can NOT afford to take time out now or I probably won't even make it round!
Posted: 31/08/2002 at 15:46


What I have done in the past is drain them (sterile needle if possible), usually in the evening, then they are pretty much recovered and dry by morning. Before putting on your running shoes, wrap Micropore surgical tape around the affected toes. This is a good plaster substitute (basically thin, sticky 'hypoallergenic' paper). Cover the surgical tape with vaseline around the blistered area. For me this never fails and I still do this by way of blister prevention on long runs. A good amount of talc between the toes is a bonus as well.

If you are not already doing so; try double layered socks.

Do your shoes feel a bit loose in the heel area ? This could be the cause of the problem. If the blisters are being caused by your foot sliding forward in the shoe you may benefit from tightening your laces to ensure that your feet are pushed back snuggly against the heel.

Assuming your shoes are a good fit you will find through trial and error what remedies suit you.

Best of luck with the Half.


Posted: 31/08/2002 at 16:57

cheers - will definately give it a go once i've found someone brave enough to drain my blister!!! Not something I really fancy myself, but I guess i'd be willing to try if it helps.
Posted: 31/08/2002 at 19:21

Freaky... I tried to log on as 'Hels' when I joined this forum, but someone already had my name - and now I am inflicted with the same injury as 'Hels'!!! I've got blisters right ont he end of each little toe... painful to say the least, AND a week before my 10k in Cambridge...
Posted: 29/09/2003 at 08:50

I suffered with blisters on my toes for a long time, but then I found Body Glide, a product from the USA that stays put unlike petroleum jelly and even plasters. I have been blister free now for about two months and just completed the Chicago Marathon without even a hint of a blister, so it really works.
Posted: 16/10/2003 at 10:10

I have been running for a short while now, but have recently increased my distance and am now suffering with blisters on the tips of my toes and down the left side of my right foot. David, interested to know where you buy bodyglide - I'll try anything as I don't want to scupper my runs? Any other tips would be appreciated!!
Posted: 11/01/2004 at 17:03

I was about to post regarding blisters as I have one recurring on my left outer heel. Is it wise to apply surgical spirits to the affected area once the blister has been drained? I was under the impression that this toughens the skin up.
Posted: 11/01/2004 at 20:19

I've used surgical spirit in the past even after the blisters have burst.

Somebody suggested to me cleaning my feet once a week with surgical spirit to not only toughen them up but also clean away any bacteria that may cause athletes foot. It has worked for me.

I have also found in the past Compeed plasters really good for blisters as well

Changing my socks from Thorlo to thin Hilly socks to keep my feet coolers on the basis that keeping them cooler must be better than wicking away moisture when they got hot.

Posted: 12/01/2004 at 12:32

I agree much what Northernbaldy says. Surgical spirit works. I used it daily for a couple of weeks - just rubbing the areas gently for a few minutes each day with some cotton wool - and it virtually removed on-going toe blisters. Wouldn't do it to open wounds though - blisters need to heal a bit.
Then use loads of vaseline, good socks and Comspeed when I do get one.
Posted: 14/01/2004 at 23:07

Hello this is my first time on a forum but i have got to the stage with my blisters that i will try anything. I am training for the London marathon and have had a re occuring blister on both arches of my feet. They have progressively got worse and i really don't know how to keep running. Having read the tips already Body glide sounds good, where can i get some please. Slow Dave
Posted: 15/01/2004 at 09:38

i have been suffering the last couple of weeks with blisters and did the bury 20 yesterday and a beauty of a blood filled blister on the inside of the little toe on my left foot, do i burst it or what.
blister plasters work on the large areas of the foot but not toes. tape does work but where can i get this body glide stuff.
with lfm onlt 7 weeks away and more races coming up i am getting very demotivated.
Posted: 01/03/2004 at 20:20

Try Hilly Marathon Fresh Mono Skin socks. They arent the double layered ones, but they have a lovely line of thicker padding along the tops of the toes, which have helped keep my toes happy.
As for your perma-blister problem on your arches Slow Dave, what shoes do you wear? Me and my running friends all have had this problem with Asics designed for over-pronation. Its gone since my feet got used to them (painful up till then though) and I love the shoes apart from this. The above socks also helped with this. And I have recently discovered X-socks ( www.x-socks.com ), not sure how much of the hyped-up technology they claim to have is true, but they are comfortable, keep your feet cool and grip and pad in all the right places.

Hope your sore feet start to feel better soon!
Posted: 02/03/2004 at 10:05

I am glad someone else has the same issue with the Asics! I was starting to think I'd been recommended the wrong shoes! I bought a new pair about 2 weeks ago, along with a pair of blister proof socks and after my run I had two fine shining blisters; the first time since I started running in September!! I've run in my trainers about 3 times since then and the blisters keep reoccurring in the same places. I am desperate to burst them but have heard it's not the best thing, although I will have a go with the surgical spirit definitely. Will check out the x-socks and hope my feet can see it through on sunday for the silverstone half!!
Posted: 03/03/2004 at 10:00

Message for Laura Holmes, just to let you know that i persevered with the asics trainers and found that they have become a very comfortable shoe. My tip would be to put loads of vaseline on the area that has a blister just before you run, and they should not rub too much. Hopefully this will work as i have also got the half at silverstone. Good luck
Posted: 03/03/2004 at 16:47

Bodyglide is the biz. Have not had a blister since using it in 2 marathons and 6 1/2 marathons. Web address is www.way-side.demon.co. Don`t know how to put the web address in as a link. Perhaps some forumite may help me.
Posted: 04/03/2004 at 02:42

Sorry---- www.way-side.demon.co.uk
Forgot about the uk
Posted: 04/03/2004 at 02:44

Jewels, How long did it take for your feet to get used the Asics shoes? I bought my first pair of Asics six weeks ago and I now have a large blister under the arch of both feet. I've been using Compeed which do the trick, but I have done over 100 miles in them now and one blister only developed a couple of weeks ago. I was planning to run the London Marathon in them, but if the blisters continue I might have to think again!
Posted: 04/03/2004 at 11:34

Compeed Plasters = God! I ran 17 miles with a blister after patching it up with a compeed before I went out...no probs!
Posted: 05/03/2004 at 17:29

I cant remember how long exactly it took to get used to the Asics Matt, but it was a few months. I was using compeed and covering it with strapping tape to stop slippage (I always lose compeed off my feet after a couple of hours running). I have recently found the Sorbathane equivilant to Compeed to be fantastic too, and slightly more sticky around the edges. I think the key to it all is to look at the socks you are wearing. I wear different socks depending on the running shoes I am wearing...it really does make a difference to blisters. I guess because the shoes grip my feet differently depending on the terrain they are designed to cover, so it makes sense that this would alter the places I needed the sock to grip in. Its all trial and error.
If you are still getting blisters from the shoes with a couple of months to go until London I would consider wearing different shoes. If you get a new blister at the beginning of the marathon its going to hurt. I had a rubbing ankle support on to do just 12 miles last weekend, and by the end of the race it looked as though I had rubbed away half my heel...not pretty and very sore. Wouldn't fancy that experience over 26 miles!
Best of luck!
Posted: 05/03/2004 at 18:39

asics arch blisters

i dont wear asics cos of them
Posted: 05/03/2004 at 18:40

It should NOT rtake months to get used to shoes

try another brand
Posted: 05/03/2004 at 18:41

thanks for the info, compeed and scholl work great for sides of feet but toes are the wrong shape and i found today that taping with normal plaster tape makes the socks stick and rub!
back to the drawing board am trying the vaseline approach this sunday for wyndham 10 .
Posted: 05/03/2004 at 21:17

Thanks Jewels
I think the problem with the Kayano IX is the loops to tighten the laces. I have noticed that they are attached to straps inside the shoe. When you tighten the laces they tighten the straps around the arch of your foot. I guess it gives extra support, but it gives me extra pain!
I'm going to look for a more comfortable shoe and use the Kayano for shorter runs. I ran a brisk 10k in them on Thursday night and they were agony at the end.

Posted: 06/03/2004 at 10:28

On a smiliar subject - does anyone know an effective way of removing that horrible sticky residue left over by strapping tape? And does anyone have an effective way of covering a blister that doesnt show when wearing strappy shoes? Its a saturday night problem!

Posted: 06/03/2004 at 18:54

Nail varnish remover is great for removing sticky tape residue, as for the strappy shoes try a very thin hydrocolloid dressing cut to the size of the blister!
Posted: 06/03/2004 at 19:06

thanks chunks - you've saved my outfit!
Posted: 06/03/2004 at 19:16

I started a thread on this forum many months ago re instep blisters and it came down to the fact that I was wearing........ASIC 2080. I know that for some people ASICS are great shoes but I would never persoanlly buy another pair. I changed to New Balance and never had the problem again. Believe me after a 10k last October my fee looked like a war zone in ASICS. When I did wear them the only solution I found was to tape up the blister area in micropore - wrapped around the feet literly, then layer vaseline over the micropore. Worked a treat. But at the end of the day, a change of shoes was the answer and I have never had the problem again.
Posted: 10/03/2004 at 12:12

Bedders, I'm usually wear Asics as they suit me perfectly. I had problems with other trainers but can't blame them.

I think blisters are more often caused by unapporpiate socks and the route you are running (i.e lots of sharp bends, corners, uneven ground,...)
Posted: 10/03/2004 at 12:35

I have to say, I've persevered with my Asics and just covered my blisters as much as possible and they have been fine. I put some sponge around my big toe and they didn't rub at all but I have got one that recurs on the ball of my foot. I also bought some x socks and hilly's and they are brilliant. The Hillys definitely work and although I was dubious about the x socks as they seemed very thin, they were brilliant when I did a run last night. Will definitely try them out on a longer run this weekend.
Posted: 10/03/2004 at 12:57

Jose - you may be right. It´s just that ASICS did not suit me. There are millions of happy ASIC wears...but I found that even wearing Wright socks (which I also recommend to people who have a tendancy to get blisters), using Micropore and vaseline, I still had serious problems. The problem for me was that the build of my foot arch was just not suited to the design of the ASIC shoe. New shoes = no problem at all, running the same routes, same socks and same distances.
Posted: 10/03/2004 at 13:06

Bedders, I had a similar problems with Adidas, and it's a pitty because I really love their designs.
Posted: 10/03/2004 at 13:09

Hi - I've got blisters under my toenails, and the Edinburgh Marathon coming up in 3 weeks time. Anyone know what to do with them. I heard you can put a boiling needle through the toenail but it doesn't really appeal to me!?
Posted: 19/05/2004 at 18:10

don`t even think about needles (boiling or red-hot or whatever). Get to your nearest chiropodist asap. You have only got two feet so look after them. Use the needle and you won`t be running any marathons this year never mind in three weeks.
Posted: 20/05/2004 at 00:34

I have a recurring blister between my big toe and the next toe on my left foot. Strapping tape allows the skin to heal but as soon as the tap comes off the blister recurs. Am wearing correctly width fitted New Balance shoes & have done for XX years without this being a problem.

Any thoughts?

Tony H 3
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 20:45

Wish I'd read this forum before buying my second pair of Asics shoes and finding that after a long(-ish) run this morning that the dreaded arch-blisters are back on both feet! Had terrible trouble with them in my previous Kayanos but for some reason gave Asics another go with a replacement pair (different model, can't remember the name).

 Will try some of the BodyGlide stuff (thanks for the tips earlier on that - new web address seems to be http://www.wayside-kinetics.co.uk/index.php?cPath=21) and save up for some non-Asics shoes!

Posted: 18/07/2009 at 20:24

Hey I am a avid runner for a long time.  I have good runners and socks.and i am getting blister.  But they arent in the normal blister spot..  I keep getting them inbetween my toes.  I run about 7- 10 km a day.  I dont understand why I am getting them expecially there.  Do i need new shoes.  Seems like such a weird spot.

Posted: 21/07/2009 at 05:45

Even after reading all the forums on blisters nothing at all is mentioned about the area i get them lo.  Help me pleasse
Posted: 21/07/2009 at 17:52

Have recently replaced my asics 1130 with a pair of stratus 3. My new shoes give me blisters on the arch of my right foot. Having checked it out, it seems that the 1130 are designed for mild overpronation, while the stratus are for neutral/under pronation. Is there any chance that this is the reason my new trainers are killing me?

 Also, is there anyone else based in SEAsia and can let me know where the nearest running store to HCMC is.


Posted: 31/08/2009 at 16:02

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