Treating Cuts & Blisters While Camping & Hiking

Ah, the joy of getting out into nature, breathing in the fresh air, exploring the wide-open spaces, stomping through rivers, and sometimes treating the occasional cut or blister. Following the best practices for wound treatment and having the right medical supplies on hand for camping and hiking, will allow you to treat your injuries in a manner that will help you to get right back on your feet so you can enjoy the great outdoors.

Treating Foot Cuts

Sharp rocks, thorns, pointy sticks, etc. are the common culprits in a cut to the foot.  The first method of treatment should be to clean the wound.  You can use soap and water, or pour some hydrogen peroxide over it.  You can even use rubbing alcohol, but due note that it will cause stinging! After cleaning the wound, apply clean gauze with pressure to stop any bleeding.

Once the bleeding stops, apply bacitracin cream (first aid antibiotic) to the wound to help prevent an infection.  It’s always a good idea to squeeze the medication onto a clean cotton swab or bandage rather than directly onto the wound, for it could contaminate the container of medicine.

Next, apply your bandage.  Be sure to use a bandage that can flex with the motions of your foot, otherwise, the bandage may fail and come off.  For larger cuts, a gauze square and bandage tape work well.  If you are out of bandage tape, duck tape can do the trick, but keep in mind that the glue could cause skin irritation.

Keep your wound dry until it has healed.  Healing can take a few days or more depending on the severity of it.  Change your bandages daily or whenever they get wet.

If you end up getting a deep cut that may need stitches, or you step on a rusty nail, it’s best to have a friend drive you to the nearest doctor or urgent care.  Deep cuts need more than a daub of bacitracin to heal.  They will probably require stitches and a stronger antibiotic medication.  And rusty nail punctures should be thoroughly cleaned out and followed by a tetanus shot if you are not up to date on them.

Treating Foot Blisters

Poorly fitting shoes and prolonged shoe-wearing often cause painful blisters.  Blisters are small pockets of fluid that form under the upper layers of skin.  There are a few things you can do to treat them depending on the severity of the blister.   First and foremost, do not pop your blister! Doing so can quickly expose your body to bacteria which could lead to an infection.  Covering the blister with a cushion of gauze, waterproof bandage, or a hydrocolloid bandage can help reduce discomfort while it heals. Should the blister pop on its own, keep it clean and dry.  Medication is not needed to treat a blister, but it doesn’t hurt to apply an antibiotic should you wish to.

Cuts and blisters are common and often easily treatable. Be sure to pack a first aid kit for your next outing so that you can treat your foot wounds effectively while you are away from home.

Here is a list of items to keep in your first aid kit for treating cuts and blisters:

  • Fabric bandages
  • Waterproof bandages
  • Hydrocolloid bandages
  • Gauze squares
  • Roll of Bandage Tape
  • Bacitracin (first aid antibiotic) cream
  • Hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol
  • Soap
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton Swabs


If you have a foot injury that is not healing, call Dr. John D. Hollander, DPM for care at (707) 578-1222 at our Santa Rosa, Ca office. We are here for you!