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A shoe bite is a painful area on your foot that’s the result of friction from rubbing against your shoe.

Keep reading to learn how to prevent and treat shoe bites on your feet, and how to fix shoes that are causing these painful areas.

The simplest way to prevent shoe bites is to purchase shoes that fit properly. If you have shoes that are causing shoe bites, consider not wearing them.

That said, if you really like a pair of shoes that are causing shoe bites, here are some solutions that might help.

Reduce the friction

The first step is to reduce the friction that’s occurring between your shoes and your feet. Try these hacks:

  • Wear socks. They can act as a cushion between your foot and the shoe.
  • Use toe protectors or toe caps. They can cushion toes from the shoe and prevent friction.
  • Insert shoe pads or insoles. These can help prevent abrasion in areas such as your heels.
  • Apply paper tape. In a 2016 study, ultramarathon runners found paper tape to be an effective blister prevention measure. Try applying a smooth, single layer of mildly adhesive paper tape, also called surgical tape, over the blistered or painful area.

You can find toe protectors and toe caps as well as shoe pads and insoles online.

Make your shoes more comfortable

The second step is to try to make your shoes more comfortable. Your shoes could be causing your foot pain because they’re new. Some shoes need to be worn a few times to break in their initial stiffness.

Based on anecdotal claims (not proven by science), here are some recommendations for breaking in new shoes and making them more comfortable:

  • Stretch them. Use a wooden or plastic shoe shaper overnight to gently stretch the problem shoes. You can find shoe shapers online.
  • Oil them. Massage oil, such as neatsfoot oil, mink oil, coconut oil, or olive oil, into the edges of leather shoes that are hurting your feet. After a few days, the shoes should be softer and less abrasive. If you’re concerned about the effects of certain oils on the color or durability of the shoe, consider using a leather conditioner instead of oil.
  • Warm them up. Wear thick socks with your shoes. Then, use your hair-dryer to heat up the tight spots for about 30 seconds. Walk around while the shoe material is still warm and flexible. Once you think they’re ready, take off your socks and try them on.
  • Mold them. This method works well for strappy sandals. Put on your sandals and dunk your feet into a bucket of water. Towel them off — but leave them damp — and then walk around in them for a couple of hours. Before you fully dunk the sandals, you might want to test a small area with water first.

Don’t wear shoes that rub

If your shoe bite is in the form of a blister, it’ll most likely heal on its own. However, you should keep it away from the source of the friction. In other words, don’t wear the shoes that caused the damage until your blister is healed.

Although the skin over the blister will help protect it from infection, consider applying a bandage to the area to keep it clean.

Home remedies for relief and healing

Here are some home remedies for treating a blister or sore spot from a shoe bite:

  • Dab some honey on the affected area. According to a 2017 study, honey has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Apply aloe vera gel to the affected area. According to a 2008 study, aloe has healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Gently rub some petroleum jelly on the affected area. According to a 2016 study, petroleum jelly has barrier repair and antimicrobial properties.

An area of your foot that’s painful or blistered because of rubbing against your shoe is often referred to as a shoe bite. The simplest answer to your problem is to buy shoes that fit properly or to wear socks.

However, if you love the shoes that caused the bite, you can try other alternatives, such as stretching or softening the material to better conform to your foot.

Preventing and treating shoe bites usually involves putting some sort of protection on your foot, such as toe protectors or toe caps, or in your shoes, such as insoles, to protect your skin from friction.

If you have recurring sores or blisters on your feet that don’t respond to at-home treatment and preventive measures, talk with a doctor or a podiatrist. They can diagnose the issue and recommend treatment options.