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Trying to Avoid Blisters? Ditch Your Cotton Socks

friends hiking in a scenic forest
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If you’ve watched TV anytime in the past 30 years, you probably remember the iconic commercials that told you cotton was “the fabric of our lives”—but it might not be the fabric for your feet.

While a commercial for fabric always seemed a little weird, the claim was easy to believe. Cotton is durable, natural, hypoallergenic, and soft—it seems perfect for any situation in life. But cotton isn’t quite as innocent as it sounds. Did you know your cotton socks may actually be giving you blisters?

There’s a reason virtually no workout clothes are made of cotton: The fabric soaks up moisture, trapping it against your skin. Workout clothes use moisture-wicking fabrics to combat this problem. Few people think about moisture-wicking properties when picking out their basic socks.

However, your feet often get sweaty, even when you’re not in the middle of an intense workout. (That’s because they contain about 250,000 total sweat glands.) And when your cotton socks trap that sweat against your skin, the damp fabric can chafe and cause blisters. Even if it doesn’t get to that point, you’ll still have to endure the unpleasant sensation of damp feet if you sweat in your cotton socks.

Cotton socks aren’t all bad, but you definitely should avoid them if there’s any chance you’ll be getting sweaty. Save them for hanging out at home or doing low-impact activities. On more active days, opt for socks made of nylon, acrylic, bamboo, or merino wool to keep your feet comfortable and blister-free. Not sure where to start? There’s a wool or synthetic blend for everybody (and every sport) out there, but if you’re looking for some simple cozy socks that are perfect for hiking and lazy days around the house, it’s tough to go wrong with these merino wool ones.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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