Blisters, Lost Toenails, and Heel Pain? How to Avoid Foot Problems When Hiking.

Letting my feet soak after a long hike near Cottonwood Lakes in California's Sierra Nevadas
Letting my feet soak after a long hike near Cottonwood Lakes in California's Sierra Nevadas
Lots of Hiking Lady readers have been asking about preventing and curing various foot problems when they hike.

There are definitely ways to prevent blisters, save your toenails, and keep your feet (and you!) happy on the trail.

My response to Lisa about Losing Toenails from Hiking!

My response to Joy about Heel Pain in Mountaineering Boots.

My tips on How to Lace Hiking Boots to Prevent Heel Blisters.

My Blister Prevention Tips.

Here’s to happy feet and happy trails!


  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Pam, as far as your missing toenails, I’d recommend protecting them with moleskin on your upcoming hike. Be sure to air them well when you’re not hiking, so they can continue to heal and grow back.

    Happy trails!

  2. Hiking Lady says:

    Emailed comment:
    Hi! I went on a three day backpacking trip in the Adirondacks to Mount Marcy in July. It was a gorgeous hike, but very muddy and rocky, resulting in two black toenails and pseudomonas. I lost my toe nails. They are growing back, but we are planning a trip to Arizona in a few weeks and I am concerned about the skin where my nail belongs on my big toe. I have great hiking boots, wicking socks and I see you suggest liners, but do you have any recommendations for protecting my toe on the hike? The skin is dry and sometimes cracks where my nail should be, just with normal wear. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    Pam Z.

  3. Justice says:

    I’ve worn the same Lowa boots for 9 years…love them and they have at least 5 years of life left according to my awesome foot guy/boot fitter/insole maker.

    My problem is that when I get tired, I don’t pick up my feet as much, then I stub my toes on rocks and the stubbing is what actually forces my toes into the front of my boots. Thanks to this happening multiple times on two trips this year (not on downhill hiking), I’m losing two toenails. And a third from I have no idea what (at least 6 months ago due to the new nail growth, but I just noticed this week!).

    My advice, pick up your feet!! And change sweaty socks. I never get blisters when I change my socks! (I too, am a SmartWool junkie. I think I have the most expensive sock drawer ever.)

  4. Foot Doctor says:

    Some home remedies or treatment options..
    Avoid going barefoot.
    Limit your activities.
    Use padding and strapping in shoes.
    If you are overweight..try to loose weight.
    Use some orthotic devices.
    Wear night splints.
    Do some exercises that stretch out the calf muscles

  5. steph says:

    Thanks hiking lady! After about two years of searching, I was finally able to find a pair of the discontinued Merrell Pulse hikers (my all time favorites) in a men’s size, but they were just the tiniest bit too big in the heel. Thicker socks and liners worked to make them wearable, but your lacing tip for heel blisters made them wear perfectly!

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