Swamp Foot, also known as Trench foot, is a condition you can develop if you stand in a cold, wet environment for an extended period of time. Symptoms of trench foot include numbness, pain, redness and swelling. Trench foot occurs when cold temperatures and moisture combine, causing restricted blood flow to your foot.
What is Swamp Foot
The medical term for Trench Foot is Non Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI). Trench feet are caused by prolonged exposure to a cold temperature that is usually above freezing and damp, sometimes unsanitary conditions. The condition ultimately causes skin and tissue breakdown which increases the risk of infection and increases associated morbidity and mortality.
The feet may become red or bluish in color. As the condition worsens the feet can start to swell and smell of decay. Symptoms of trench foot include a tingling and/or itching sensation, pain, swelling, cold and blotchy skin, numbness, and a prickly or heavy feeling in the foot. The foot may be red, dry, and painful after it becomes warm. Complications may include skin breakdown or infection. Trench foot occurs due to prolonged exposure of the feet to cold, damp, and often unsanitary conditions. It can take three to six months to fully recover from Trench Foot and prompt treatment is essential to prevent gangrene and possible foot amputation.
How is trench foot prevented and treated?
When possible, air-dry and elevate your feet, and exchange wet shoes and socks for dry ones to help prevent the development of trench foot. Treatment for trench foot is similar to the treatment for frostbite. Take the following steps:
- Thoroughly clean and dry your feet.
- Put on clean, dry socks daily.
- Treat the affected part by applying warm packs or soaking in warm water (102° to 110° F) for approximately 5 minutes.\When sleeping or resting, do not wear socks.
- Treating any affected part of the foot or leg by soaking in warm water for approximately five minutes (the temperature of the water should be between 102 and 110 F).
- Applying heat packs to the affected area every five minutes as a means of slowly re-warming the foot
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen, as prescribed for pain and swelling
- Examine the feet often for signs of infection or for worsening of the tissue breakdown
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible
- Obtain medical assistance as soon as possible.
If you have a foot wound, your foot may be more prone to infection. Check your feet at least once a day for infections or worsening symptoms.
A 2013 study reports that trench foot usually starts with tingling and itching which progresses to numbness. Restricted blood flow can cause reddened skin and bluish discoloration (called cyanosis). In the later stages, as the foot is rewarmed, hyperesthesia (excessive physical sensation) may occur.
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