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Blisters, Bugs and Borrelia Burgdorferi

“What do I do to prevent blisters…?”

Make sure your shoes or boots fit correctly.

Crazy right? Yes, I know it sounds daft, of course you’re going to get boots or shoes that fit, aren’t you? Well, when was the last time you actually had your feet measured? Yeah, thought so. Try different styles, different manufacturers etc when choosing your boots. One size 11 boot (UK Sizes) may be different from the next when it comes to length, width, and so on. Try BOTH on not just one, time spent in the shop is time well spent, trust me.

New boots?

Break them in before you do any serious stuff. Wear them around the house, but take them off before walking on the new bedroom carpet, trust me, I know all about this too. After a bit of in-house-training, your boots will be more flexible and easier on your feet.

Reduce friction

The cause of most blisters (but not all). Use petroleum jelly if you’re planning on walking or running any great distance in new boots, even if they have been house trained, apply some to the places where you feel they may rub.

Always wear socks

Not the fashion tube shaped, or should I say shapeless things, but good quality foot shaped socks. Stay away from cotton too, as this will hold moisture like a sponge and wet feet spell disaster. They can whiff a bit too, not good if you’re sharing a tent. Go for an acrylic sock or better still merino wool. Once again, spend some time with the sock choice, time spent here means less time with me looking at your feet. That has to be good news all round.

Keep your feet dry

Dry feet don’t blister as easily, I won’t say they never do, but being dry does help prevent painful blisters from forming on your feet. Use foot powder on a daily basis before you put your socks and shoes on. Yestival 2016 attendees please note, I’ll have some with me, but I advise you bring your own. 3 days multiplied by 1000 feet (assuming 2 each) equates to a large amount of powder for one medic to carry. If you’re a sweaty foot person, firstly, stay downwind of the rest of the team when removing boots, but also take your footwear off at every possible opportunity and dry your feet. At night try to stay barefoot when safe to do so, if not get yourself some sandals (not flip-flops but Crocs are OK) and let the air get to your feet.


Some people put moleskin or tape over hot spots on their feet that are prone to blisters, as a preventive measure. If you do this, make sure that whatever you use is applied smoothly, any wrinkles will be as bad as a wet foot in a cotton sock in your grand-dads old boots.


Keep feet dry, in a good quality sock (not cotton) and in a good quality boot/shoe, that fits well and has been broken in or ‘house-trained’

Treating Blisters.

Now some people say cover them, some say don’t. Some say pop ’em some don’t. Some even go as far as to heat up a needle and stab yourself with it. Don’t! That’s all I’m going to say!

If you already have a blister and it’s not painful, just leave it alone, since the skin serves as protection. It will eventually break and the fluid will drain. If the blister is painful, for Yestival team only, come and see me and I will carefully pierce the blister painlessly and with a sterile something-or-other, drain any fluid out and use an antiseptic cream, and cover it, I’m nice like that. Everyone else, if it’s that painful see your doc who will more than likely ask a nurse to do what I just said above. DON’T go stabbing yourself with anything.

Now for the other stuff…

Avoiding Bugs

Bugs are responsible for the spread of many diseases, (not so much in Surrey) such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, leishmaniasis, the list is huge. Stopping bugs from biting in the first place has to be the best way to avoid getting anything nasty. Indeed in some cases, leishmaniasis for example, this is the only way to avoid it. Things that fly about, mosquitoes and horse flies for example are attracted to carbon dioxide, movement, heat, some colours etc. We can’t stop breathing, and even if we could, we still ooze CO2, so to avoid ‘the bite’ we try and cover up. Either wearing long sleeves and trousers or with chemicals.

Chemically I have to say, I have found DEET or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide products to be the best. DEET may be good stuff but some people say it is harmful, and I know from experience, that if it leaks in your day-sack, it plays havoc with anything plastic. Digital Camera for example, I liked that camera too.

Whatever chemical is used it should be reapplied at regular intervals, especially in hot, humid conditions when they may be removed by perspiration, and after swimming. When both sunscreens and repellents are used, the repellent should be applied over sunscreen. Sunscreens that contains repellent should be avoided as it may encourage excessive use of DEET.

All chemicals have rules and here are some of mine…

  • Use only on exposed areas of skin
  • Do not apply to cuts, abrasions or irritated skin.
  • Remove with soap and water when the repellent is no longer required.
  • Don’t spray directly on your face and wash your hands after using the stuff.
  • Read the instructions!!!

Treatment of insect bites

Small, red, sometimes raised areas that are very itchy usually mean that agent bug has been at work. Swelling can be reduced by the using mild steroid cream. Anti-histamine tablets can be taken to try and ease any itching. DO NOT SCRATCH and keep clean and dry to avoid infection.

Ticks need to be removed from the skin very carefully. This can be done with tweezers or specially designed tick removers, better still, by me. Grasp the tick near to the skin and steadily pull out the tick being careful not to crush the tick’s body or squeeze the stomach contents into the site of the bite. It’s also good to find who your mates are, and if you’re in an area prone totick-borne encephalitis, check each other out each night for any lodgers in those dark warm areas, like armpits and… well, you get the idea! You really do need to get these things off, and off in one bit, as anything left behind can cause infection. They also carry…

…Borrelia Burgdorferi

Sorry, what? This is the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and yes, you can get it in the UK, even in Berkshire. Its symptoms are as follows:

  • flu like aching, fever and headache
  • tiredness
  • sweating
  • joint pain
  • light and sound sensitivity
  • tingling, numbness, itching of the skin
  • stiff neck
  • erythema migrans rash, which looks like this


erythema migrans rash

It’s not good, ever, get to a doctor.

Facial palsy in children (they look like they’ve had a stroke), with headache and fever has been shown to predict early Lyme neuroborreliosis during peak Lyme season (April-Oct).

There is a very good website about ticks and why I dislike the little bast***s