The Dangers of Trench Foot

Trench foot occurs when an individual spending long periods of time in cold, wet, conditions. It is a type of tissue damage and can lead to swelling, pain, and other disturbances in the feet. If left untreated, trench foot can lead more serious injury to the skin, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Therefore, it is important that you understand the warning signs and treatment methods of trench foot.

Causes of Trench Foot

As we already discussed, trench foot is the result of overexposure to cold temperatures and wet conditions. The symptoms can sometimes appear immediately or may take upwards of a week to appear. These symptoms include:

  • tingling or itching (in the affected area)
  • numbness
  • cold, blotchy skin
  • pain
  • swelling

If you begin to feel any of the symptoms listed above, act immediately, move to a warm area, disrobe of wet clothes and remain indoors until conditions lessen. If not, you risk permanent damage.

Stages and Treatment

There are 4 stages of trench foot and they are as follows:

  • Stage 1 (injury): Blood flow becomes restricted, and tissue will become cold and numb. The limb may appear red or white but there will be no pain.
  • Stage 2 (post-injury): After warming the affected limb, it may turn from white to blue, staying cold and numb, followed by swelling.
  • Stage 3 (hyperemia (check spelling) phase): Lasting between 2 weeks to 3 months, the limb becomes red and hot, followed with pain (blisters may form)
  • Stage 4 (post-hyperemia (Check spelling) stage): Possible permanent damage. Characterized by sensitivity to cold, pins and needles, and pain.

It goes without saying that if you think you may be experiencing trench foot, remove yourself from the area immediately and seek medical attention. One must be careful not to immediately begin warming the foot, as this can lead to further tissue damage.

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