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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998 Aug;39(2 Pt 1):202-6.

Influence of an antiperspirant on foot blister incidence during cross-country hiking.

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  • 1Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance, US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21040, USA.



Rubbing moist skin results in higher frictional forces than rubbing very dry skin. As friction increases, the probability of activity-related blisters also increases. Therefore reducing moisture may reduce blister incidence during physical activity.


We examined whether an antiperspirant can reduce foot blisters during hiking.


In a double-blind study, cadets attending the US Military Academy were separated into two groups that used either an antiperspirant (20% aluminum chloride hexahydrate in anhydrous ethyl alcohol) or placebo (anhydrous ethyl alcohol) preparation. Cadets were told to apply preparations to their feet for 5 consecutive nights. On day 6, cadets completed a 21-km hike, and their feet were examined for blisters before and after.


Because of dropouts, the final sample size was 667 cadets with 328 in the antiperspirant group and 339 in the placebo group. There was a high rate of noncompliance with the treatment schedule: Cadets used the preparations from 0 to 5 nights before the hike. For cadets using the preparations at least 3 nights before the hike (n=269), the incidence of foot blisters was 21% for the antiperspirant group and 48% for the placebo group (P < 0.01). However, reports of skin irritation were 57% for the antiperspirant group and 6% for the placebo group (P < 0.01).


A 20% solution of aluminum chloride hexahydrate in anhydrous ethyl alcohol may be effective in reducing foot blisters during hiking; however, the side effect of skin irritation should be considered and preventive measures studied to reduce this irritation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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