IMO, and I'm not a doctor, the best way to handle blisters, is to prevent them.
If you get a hot spot on your heel or somewhere else, put your ego in your pocket and stop!
Take time to put a simple piece of tape or a bandaid on the hot spot to eliminate the rub and prevent more problems down the trail.
Up until last year, I had gone years without a blister.
Last April 2019, while camped at bright angel campground, grand canyon NP, I took off my socks to walk around in my trail runners and take pictures. Unbelievably, I didn't notice my heel was being rubbed until it was too lake and I had a huge blister.
Fortunately, I was able to just tape it down and drive on with no pain.
I agree with the OP in that prevention is the best medicine. If you treat a hot spot early it won't have a chance to get worse. And as long as you're walking, it won't get better without intervention.
Reduce friction by using liner socks. I love Injinji socks with toes. I used to be plagued with blisters between toes, but I've not had a single problem since changing to Injinjis. I never even need to think about my feet anymore.
I agree. The trick is getting tape that sticks. I find that no matter how sticky the tape is, I have to clean my skin with an alcohol prep pad or something. Otherwise, my duct-tape or KT tape isn't going to stay put.
Incidentally, I have also played around a little with Body Glide and found that it helps.
I agree that prevention is key.
Like others I've found that two socks, a thin polypropylene liner with a wool/blend outer sock, works best. If the liner sticks to the skin then it provides the same sort of blister prevention as tape all over the foot. One issue to look for how seams in the liner socks are positioned. You want to avoid a seam that rubs against the toes, etc.
I also use so-called medical/surgical/hospital tape around vulnerable areas, especially after a blister has developed. There are several varieties of this tape available so I recommend that people experiment to see what works for them.
Well fitted shoes and boots, gradually worn and broken in, make a big difference. Contemporary foot gear breaks in a lot easier, gives fewer blisters, but also wears out faster than the clop hoppers your grandfather wore....
OK ... I did the stupid thing and kept walking. Now, I have significant open wounds on both feet. So, I'm down for several days waiting to heal. Any recommendations on speeding up the recovery?
And yes, I bought new boots that are much better than my starter pair.
@CajunHiker, tsk, tsk, tsk,, I know the feeling exactly, 'been there, done that'.
On my last trip to the Grand Canyon, April 2019, soooooo long ago, we had just arrived at Bright Angel Campground and were looking forward to a few hours of 'down time' to rest up a bit before the 'obligatory steak dinners' at Phantom Ranch, after the hike down from South Rim, when I decided to take off my socks and walk around the area to take photos. I was wearing my trusty trail runners and just wanted to let my feet 'air out' a bit.
The shoes were deliberately loose and very comfortable, but I did notice my heels were being rubbed just a little bit.
Well, wouldn't you know it, when I got back to camp I a perfect nickel sized blister on one heel. Unbelievable, I told myself. This wasn't even a hiking blister, it was a 'standing around taking pictures blister?!'
That story told...and I'm not a doctor or a 'survivor-boy', but here's the advice I would give you:
Put a band-aid or piece of gauze on them (so tape doesn't stick directly on the skin), then tape, with multiple layers to ensure some padding over the wound, preferably something that will survive a shower, or three, and wait for 3-4 days, then peel everything off and, if necessary, repeat. (not sure about my commas here)
It's okay to pierce the blister bubble with a pin or something to get the juice out so you can tape it up better. (Must be true because I read it on the inter webs)
If you have any, maybe put a little neosporin on it before the first band-aid.
Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.
Now here's a photo of that event: