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How to prevent blisters from new shoes

girl in school shoes

Blisters are the result of friction between the foot and the shoe and as all foot shapes vary, there isn’t one single shoe shape that will be right for every foot, so unfortunately blisters can be a consequence of new shoes.

Finding the right shoe shape for the shape of your foot and getting your feet measured professionally can help prevent friction. If your child develops blisters after wearing new shoes, it might not have been avoidable so please don’t feel guilty! Here is our guide to what causes blisters and how to prevent them.

What causes blisters?

A blister is a liquid filled sack formed under the epidermis, which is top layer of the skin. A blister creates a raised portion of skin. There are a couple of reasons why you might experience blisters from new shoes. Here are the key reasons:

1. Friction

A friction blister, which is the most common type of blister associated with wearing new shoes, forms when the skin is rubbed and a clear fluid is released under the top layer of skin. With a new pair of shoes, when the leather will be harder and the shape of the shoe more rigid, designed to support a variety of different foot shapes, parts of the foot might rub against a section of the shoe, while it ‘wears in’ and this can cause a blister. Our shoes are versatile and made with soft leathers, so we try to avoid uncomfortable rubbing, but feet are so individual that this can sometimes happen.

2. Excessive moisture

Blisters can form following excessive moisture build up within a shoe. These types of blisters are more commonly experienced by athletes, walkers and runners. Sweaty feet can increase friction levels as it makes it more difficult for the foot to slip or slide in the shoes. The moisture weakens the skin and can increase the potential for the skin to be rubbed to form a blister. Thankfully Start-Rite’s breathable linings and proprietary Air Rite technology is designed to increase the air flow inside the shoes and reduce sweat from building up.

See here more information on the importance of foot health and how to look after your feet.

How to avoid blisters from new shoes

There are a few steps you can take, to avoid blisters forming when you have new shoes. The most important factor is to buy shoes that are suitable for the shape of your foot. For example, if your child has wide feet, look for shoes with a rounded toe in width fittings from G to H. Look for fastenings such as rip tape, laces or buckles that give you more flexibility and if you still need more width, consider sizing up half a length size as this will also increase the width. Here is a list of other ways you can aim to avoid blisters with new shoes:

1. Wear socks

Cotton socks are great moisture absorbers, which means they will trap heat and sweat around the foot and can actually encourage blisters to form with friction. Socks with a higher synthetic value are better at keeping the moisture away from the foot and will better protect the skin from friction. However, all socks are a great way to protect your feet from rubbing new shoes, so always wear socks and make sure you wear a clean pair each day.

2. Check the fit

Your child’s shoes should hold at the heel and prevent slipping, while allowing ‘wiggle room’ at the front. This is also what we call ‘growing room built in’ and this should be a thumb's width of space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe.

It’s important that shoes are fitted correctly and that shoes that are too small are exchanged or returned before use. There is a school of thought that you can ‘wear in’ shoes but quality school shoes are unlikely to give in around the foot as they are designed to support the foot through all of its physical activity, so we do not recommend it. Instead, we recommend buying new school shoes during the summer holidays and wearing them for a few hours each day before going back to school. Especially for little ones who will have got used to a carefree summer with bare feet or in sandals. Heavier winter school shoes will feel quite different and might take some getting used to.

See our extensive collection of children’s shoes.

3. Take it slow

If it’s possible, for the first few days ask your child not to run around too vigorously in their new shoes to enable the foot to comfortably get used to the shoes and the shoes to get used to the shape of the feet inside them. Take the shoes off when returning from school and if they are wet from the rain, ensure they are properly dried before using them again. If shoes are rubbing it’s best to alternate them with another pair while the new pair becomes accustomed to the feet.