If you've studied history, you've likely heard of trench foot before. Trench foot was a common condition soldiers during WWI developed due to prolonged exposure to cold, wet, and unsanitary conditions in the trenches of Germany and France.
The term was first coined during Napoleon's time, during the Napoleonic Wars of 1812. It was during the retreat from Russia the condition was noted and has since become a problem for men who are in trench warfare in the winter, like in WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War. It is said that people even developed trench foot during the 1998 and 2007 Glastonbury Festival, the 2009 Leeds Festival, and the 2012 Download Festival as a result of the muddy, cold, and wet conditions at these events.
Affected feet will become numb, either by turning red or blue as a result of poor circulation to the feet. Feet may develop a particular decaying odor due to early necrosis setting in. As the condition worsens, the feet will begin to swell. Advanced stages of trench foot include blistering and open sores which lead to fungal infections, also known as tropical ulcer, or jungle rot.
When left untreated, trench foot results in gangrene, which necessitates the need for amputation. If trench foot is caught early, a complete recovery is possible, but severe short-term pain may be felt when sensation returns to the appendages. Since you've had trench foot before, you are more susceptible to having it again in the future.
Trench foot can occur in temperatures as high as 60 degrees Fahrenheit; it does not have to be cold water for it to happen.
To prevent trench foot, keep your feet warm and dry. Make sure you put on clean and dry socks and shoes daily. Treat the affected part by applying warm packs or soaking in warm water for five minutes. When sleeping or resting, do not wear socks.
For soldiers, regular foot inspections are a key preventative measure. They were paired and made responsible for the other's feet. When left by themselves, soldiers would leave their socks and boots on. As the war raged on, the time spent in the trenches decreased.
If you believe have a foot problem and do not currently see a podiatrist, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.
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