What is Trench Foot?
In reference to trench warfare in World War I, trench foot, otherwise known as immersion foot is a medical situation resulting from a lengthened exposure of the feet to moist, contaminated and cold conditions while in constrictive footwear. In comparison to frostbite, this condition does not involve sub-zero environment as it can occur at 16 degrees Celsius with barely eleven hours of exposure.
This condition was a major problem for soldiers in long excavations during wintry weather of the first and second World Wars and in Vietnam War.
The conditions start with numbness on the affected foot. It may turn red or blue as an effect to poor vascular supply and may give off a decomposing stench due to premature stages of necrosis setting in. As the circumstance gets worse, the feet become swollen. Blisters may form and then burst open leading to open sores which make the foot susceptible to fungal infections. If left untreated, gangrene takes place, calling the need for an urgent surgical amputation.
Preventive measures for trench foot can easily be put into practice by keeping the feet warm, clean and dry, and changing of socks frequently with dry ones. Once the foot becomes wet, let it air dry, and one must elevate the feet. Create a cool and dry shoe environment that is also within reach ultraviolet light. To manage perspiration, drying agents such as topical products containing aluminum chloride are recommended.
In an individual who develops trench foot, immediate treatment is needed to prevent the condition from spreading and from causing long-standing damage. The affected foot is cleansed meticulously and is allowed to dry. Socks are changed daily. While sleeping, any footwear should never be worn. For five minutes, the foot is treated by soaking it in warm water with a temperature about a 38.9 to 43.3 degrees Celsius. For the same amount of time warm packs can be otherwise directed to the affected area. Most importantly, a medical supervision must be sought at once.
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