Trench foot is NOT a thing of the past. In Kentucky, this is especially true if you are a coal miner. They know all too well about damp, wet environments. Take note, it’s not just an occupational thing either for soldiers or miners.
It’s one of many skin conditions that affect the feet.
Recreational activity lovers of hiking and camping should know the risks. If it scheduled to rain at your favorite outdoor, three day music festival and you see yourself slogging through the mud and standing for hours in ankle deep sludge listening to your favorite band – take precaution. Although not as common today as it was during World War I, trench foot is still something to be wary of. But what really is trench foot?!
The name, ‘trench foot’, developed as a slang term when soldiers during the First World War, had to stand in trenches for days without waterproof boots and were diagnosed with this foot condition. The affliction can take hold when you stand in water for long amounts of time; say ten to thirteen hours or more. You may have also heard of ‘Jungle Rot’, which is another slang term for a similar foot immersion condition that was prevalent in the Vietnam War.
Basically, the foot, feet or toes affected turn numb and either red or blue from the decreased vascular blood flow. Then the gross stuff starts to happen. Your feet can swell and have a smell of decay from the onset of cell death (necrosis).
If you even suspect that you have Trench Foot, you should be evaluated because the next stages involve open sores and blisters that lead to foot fungus. If continually left unchecked, gangrene ( the foot or toes turn black) sets in and then amputation may be necessary.
The good news is that if you treat the feet early, complete and total recovery is possible. Prevention really is the key though, because once you contract trench foot (this goes the same for frostbite), you are much more likely to develop it again in the future.
If you notice that your feet are damp or very sweaty, wash your feet with clean water and soap and towel them off. Keep extra socks with you so that you can air out your others and allow them to dry. If you’re in a situation with no way to dab and towel off your feet, air dry them and keep the circulation flowing to your feet. It will take time, but it’s necessary.
If you’re going to be camping, hiking, working or just enjoying a festival show and the conditions happen to be less than ideal, check your feet regularly.
Even better, do like the soldiers in WWI were required to do – check your partner’s feet. Yeah, it’s a hassle to strip out of your boots and socks, but it’s worth it. Like the propaganda poster says, “Keep feet clean and dry.”