Trench Foot

ABOUT TRENCH FOOT

Trench foot is seldom seen nowadays although it once plagued the soldiers of WWI who stuck for days on end in the cold and wet of the trenches would develop this painful condition all to commonly.  Soldiers feet would begin to deteriorate ultimately some would almost become "rotten" as skin injury led to secondary infection.

Nowadays the condition is much less common thanks to a combination of improved equipment, better education and of course less exposure to such harsh environments.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TRENCH FOOT?

Symptoms of trench foot vary with severity but include:

  • Blanching of skin

  • Development of red areas of skin in patches

  • Numbness / tingling

  • Intense itching of the foot

  • Swelling 

  • Blistering of the skin

  • Tissue loss leading to amputation in severe cases

CAN YOU STILL GET TRENCH FOOT?

It is still possible to see the odd case of this condition even here in the UK.  People who become exposed to the same conditions of prolonged wet and cool temperatures are at risk.  The risks are greater for those unable to move about as this further reduces the circulation.  Some examples of who might be at risk include:

  • Festival goers

  • Emergency rescue services

  • Campers / hikers / walkers

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREVENT THE CONDITION?

The simplest approach has to be prevention.  Select the correct gear for the planned activity and if possible ensure you have spare warm and dry clothing.  Check feet regularly to spot early problems.

WHAT IS THE BEST TREATMENT?

If you do develop symptoms of Trench foot which nowadays are most likely going to be mild then immediate removal of wet or damp hosiery and footwear followed by thorough but gentle drying is essential.  Remember the skin may be very sensitive and fragile to be gentle.  If you have prolonged symptoms or any blistering or persistent discolouration urgent advice is essential.