Trench Foot

by Sam Malone


Trench foot is a condition of the feet also called immersion foot. This condition occurs when the foot stays wet for extended periods of time. The medical condition of trench foot is characteristic with its symptoms of tingling in the foot, itching, swelling, reddening of the skin, and blotchiness. Leg cramps are common as symptoms of trench foot.

This condition primarily occurs when feet remain soaked for long periods of time. Some studies indicate that keeping your feet soaked for 13 hours, you are likely to get trench foot if you don't take adequate care. The nature of this injury is such that it occurred commonly with soldiers during the World War. Soldiers would stand in trenches for hours and days at a time and this standing would often lead to trench foot. Therefore the name of this condition originates from its World War days.

It starts off with cold and wet feet through boots which do not get enough oxygen supply. The lack of oxygen leads to discolouring of the feet along with some swelling and numbness. If the condition is caught at this stage, warming takes a few hours and the foot will heal in a few days. The second stage of this condition is when the foot starts to get damaged due to lack of oxygen. Tingling of the foot is a symptom which never quite goes away. In this stage gangrene can also set in and healing can take up to 4 to 6 weeks. The third stage is the most acute in this condition. In this stage, after apparent healing, the person feels like the foot is sweating much more and there is increased cold sensitivity to the foot.

If someone's foot or feet has been wet for many hours, then treatment includes first warming the feet with warm, circulating water for about 5 minutes. Though it is a case of a foot, this condition can be mistaken for just frozen feet. It's also important to keep the feet dry after warming them. Dry the feet gently and once certain that the feet are dry, cover them with socks to keep them warm. If the person's foot is discoloured, you should seek immediate medical attention to prevent gangrene. Once a person has suffered from trench foot, prevention becomes an important part of everyday care. The person should ensure that feet remain dry and free from perspiration as far as possible.

Reference:

http://teacherweb.ftl.pinecrest.edu/snyderd/MWH/Webquests/8-WWI/8-trenches.htm


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