What is Trench Foot or Immersion Foot?
Trench foot is a medical condition of the foot that is also known as immersion foot. It is a foot injury that results from prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions and can occur at temperatures as high as 60 degrees Fahrenheit if the feet are continually wet.
Injury to the foot occurs because wet feet loose heat much faster than dry feet; thus, to prevent heat loss, the body constricts blood vessels in order to shut down circulation in the feet. Skin tissue in the feet begins to die because of the lack of oxygen, and nutrients, and also due to the buildup of toxic products. Trench foot can be quite painful, but it can be prevented and treated.
The condition was very common during World War I because soldiers spent a lot of time situated in wet, cold trenches and did not have footwear that was waterproof; subsequently, it caused many soldiers to lose limbs. It was also prevalent during the Napoleonic wars in the early 1800s in Europe. Trench foot can also happen anytime feet are exposed to water (or wetness) for a long period of time, and that can include everything from sea travel, wet socks and excessive sweating. Trench foot can affect anyone of any age, gender or race.
What are the Symptoms of Trench Foot?
There are a variety of symptoms that may point to Trench foot. These symptoms may include:
- Redness and numbness of the foot.
- A tingling sensation and/or an itching of the foot.
- A blue discoloration to the skin, which is an indication of a poor blood supply to the foot.
- A decaying odor from the foot.
- Swelling, which is a sign that the condition is worsening.
- A dry foot.
- A blotchy foot.
- A foot that is painful.
- Leg cramps.
- Open sores and blisters on the foot, which could indicate that the disease is in an advanced state.
- A partial or non-existent pulse in the foot.
- A gangrene and fungal infection, which would indicate that the disease is in a very advanced state.
How Should Trench Foot be Treated?
There are a number of things you can do to treat trench foot. These include:
- Soaking your feet in warm water that ranges in temperature from one hundred to one hundred ten degrees Fahrenheit for at least five minutes. After taking your feet out of the water, make certain that you dry them completely, especially between the toes.
- Elevating your feet to help reduce swelling.
- Staying off of your feet as much as possible.
- Checking your feet once a day very closely to see if there are any wounds.
It is important to visit a physician immediately if you notice any symptoms of trench foot in order to prevent it from spreading and causing long-term damage, including the loss of a foot. This is vitally important, especially if you have any ulcers or blisters that are infected to make sure that the infection does not spread.
What can you do to Prevent Trench Foot?
There are a number of things you can do to prevent trench foot. For example, you should:
- Change your socks every day so that you are only wearing socks that are clean and ry.
- Not wear socks when you’re sleeping or resting; this is especially important for people who sweat a great deal.
- If your feet are wet, make certain that you clean them completely and let them dry.
- If you know that you’ll be going boating or fishing or if you are a soldier, have an extra pair of dry shoes and socks with you so that you can change into them. You can also purchase special socks that will pull moisture away from your skin. Whenever possible, wear sandals or flip-flops to allow the sweat to evaporate from your skin, especially in hot-weather conditions that could cause your feet to sweat.