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Trench Foot

Trench foot is defined as a medical condition of the foot, which arises as a result of too much exposure to cold, wet, and unsanitary conditions.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
During World War 1, soldiers were posted to places which consisted largely of trenches. There, they stood in water for hours with their feet were constantly exposed to wet and cold conditions, since they did not have any waterproof footwear. This resulted in a foot condition termed trench foot. It was first noticed in Napoleon's army in 1812. The condition is also known as immersion foot. During World War 1, the problem was a common scenario among the troops, and it posed great difficulties in the proceedings of the warfare.
Signs and Symptoms
The early sign indicative of trench foot is numbness and redness of the foot. This may be accompanied with itching and/or tingling sensation in the feet. Blue discoloration of the foot may be observed, which signifies poor supply of blood to the area.
Another classic symptom is the occurrence of a decaying odor from the foot. Swelling of the feet often indicates that the condition has worsened. The foot may feel dry, blotchy, and painful. The condition may also give rise to leg cramps, and may also cause the pulse in the foot to cease partially or completely. Occurrence of blisters and open sores on the foot, often indicate a severe stage of the disease. The complications which may result, if the condition goes unchecked, include fungal infection, and gangrene.
If such symptoms are observed, it is necessary to consult a podiatrist. A few self-care measures can keep the condition from aggravating.
  • Wet environment is the main cause of trench foot. So, keeping the feet clean and dry at all times is beneficial.
  • Socks must be changed everyday, and only dry and clean ones must be worn. Wearing socks while sleeping is not advisable.
  • Over-the-counter pain killers may be used to deal with the pain. However, it is always advisable to consult the appropriate professional, and resort to the right medicines.
  • Treating the affected foot with hot water, or using a hot compress also helps in dealing with the symptoms. Simply soaking the foot in the hot water for about five minutes can provide relief. Once you are done, ensure that you pat the skin dry.
  • However, avoid exposing your foot to sources of extreme heat. This may further damage the tissues of the foot.
Preventing trench foot is not difficult. All it requires is taking care of the feet, especially in the wet and cold environment. The main aim should be keeping the feet warm and dry. It should be understood that trench foot is nothing but a form of wound, that puts the affected foot at the risk of developing a serious infection, which may result in a severe condition, and may require amputation of the foot. Hence, as soon as the symptoms begin to show up, it is wise to seek prompt treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.