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Trench Foot: Foot Problems caused by Military Boots

trench foot
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What Is Trench Foot and How Does It Affect You?

Trench foot, also known as immersion foot syndrome, is a serious condition that occurs when your feet are submerged in water for an extended period of time. The condition was first recognized during World War I, when soldiers contracted trench foot as a result of fighting in cold, wet trenches with no extra socks or boots to keep their feet dry.

During WWI, trench foot killed an estimated 2,000 American and 75,000 British soldiers, according to reliable sources.

Since the infamous outbreak of trench foot during WWI, there has been a greater understanding of the importance of keeping your feet dry. Trench foot can still occur today if your feet are exposed to cold and wet conditions for an extended period of time.

What Is Trench Foot and Why Is It Called That?


In 1812, a French army doctor was the first to describe the condition. However, the name was coined during World War I. Soldiers were forced to fight in muddy, wet trenches. During World War II, sailors developed the same condition, known as “immersion foot,” after spending too much time in cold water on lifeboats. Soldiers in the Vietnam War developed the same ailment from wearing soggy boots in the jungle all day and night. It was dubbed “jungle rot.”

It’s bad for your feet to be wet and cold for an extended period of time. Wet body parts lose heat much more quickly than dry ones. Your body cuts off blood flow to the cold limbs to keep the rest of you warm. This can harm the skin on your feet, the tissue in your feet, or the nerves in your feet if you have wet, cold feet. Trench foot is caused by this. It usually occurs in cool water with a temperature of 32 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. It can, however, happen in warmer water. You may also hear it referred to as “immersion foot.”

Trench foot can be avoided. However, if this occurs, you will be able to recover if your feet are treated quickly. Waiting too long may result in painful symptoms that do not go away. Doctors may have to amputate the damaged foot in severe cases.

Symptoms of trench foot

You’ll notice some visible changes to your feet if you have trench foot, such as:

blisters

skin that is blotchy

redness

tissue that dies and falls off of the skin

In addition, trench foot can cause the following foot sensations:

coldness

heaviness

numbness

When exposed to heat, pain occurs.

itching that won’t stop

prickliness

tingling

Only a portion of the feet may be affected by the symptoms of trench foot. In the most severe cases, however, these can spread throughout your entire foot, including your toes.

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Treatment for Trench Foot

You must immediately seek refuge in a warm environment. You should remove your wet shoes and socks once you arrive. Wash your feet and pat them dry with a towel. Do not rub them as this may cause tissue damage. Then you should go to the nearest emergency room.

As your feet warm-up, they may turn red and hurt. The rewarming process will be less painful if they warm up slowly. Your feet will gradually warm up in the ER or hospital with bed rest, elevation, and room-temperature air drying. Rewarming them too quickly can aggravate your damaged skin’s pain, swelling, and stress.

Your doctor may give you a nerve block, which is an injection that numbs nerves, during the painful rewarming process.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can also help reduce swelling and pain. In addition to bed rest to keep the weight off your injured or damaged feet, you should also:

Raise your feet if possible.

Not rubbing your toes

Every day, put on clean, dry socks.

When sleeping, do not wear socks.

There will be no smoking.

Keep yourself hydrated.

A tetanus shot may be recommended by your doctor. He may also prescribe amitriptyline to alleviate your nerve pain.

In severe cases, surgery to remove damaged tissue may be required.

Any symptoms that do not go away should be reported to your doctor.

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