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Thread: swamp feet??

  1. #1
    Senior Member MEB's Avatar
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    swamp feet??

    I spent this past weekend backpacking and my feet were pretty much wet for the entire duration. Our hike was just over 28 miles and I carried a heavy pack and I was expecting the bottoms of my feet to be sore by the end. However, this was not the case. This morning when I got up both my feet were swollen and red and itchy on the tops and around the ankles. I'm guessing this happened because my feet were wet for so long and maybe some of the skin has been chaffed off??? Has this happened to anyone else and if so what have you done to make them feel better and what do you do to prevent this from happening???

    -MEB

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    Senior Member Warren's Avatar
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    I am not a medical doctor and my first aid certification ran out about a year ago but that sounds like trench foot.

    To avoid it keep your feet dry, at least over night. I've heard it said that soldiers were ordered to change socks daily to avoid this. This time of year I begin to prefer quicker drying trail shoes/ runners to lessen the always wet thing.

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    Senior Member Double Bow's Avatar
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    A friend of mine had something similar and he used Gold Bond Powder for a few days and the redness and itching subsided.
    "I like to collect experiences the way other people like to collect coins and stamps." Michael McGuire

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    65/67 Winter NE4Ks [Been there, ROCKED IT!!]

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    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    It does sound like Trench foot. It is an absolute need that you dry your feet and change socks at least once a day, usually before bed. More often if conditions warrant.

    It can cause very bad damage to your feet.

    It got its name from WWI soldiers who stood in trenches continually so their feet were wet all the time. The damage to the feet can be severe. More people were put out of commision from trench foot than from bullets as I remember. The army learned it's lesson and WWII was different. It re-learned the lesson in Vietnam.

    I always (I know I am not alone) carry at least one and sometimes two pairs of socks. Heavy wool so they wick moisture away from my feet. I always remove my socks at night. And replace them if wet. Also when your skin gets like that the constant abraiding of your socks can rip large chunks of skin off of your feet.

    Any sores that don't heal or pain, see your doctor.

    Good luck,
    Keith

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    Interesting thread.

    Came across the following NOLS info post that's worth a read:

    http://www.nols.edu/wmi/curriculum_u...sionfoot.shtml


    Checked the (admittedly limited) wilderness medicine publications I have - including a text distributed during a SOLO WFA program. None of them mention immersion/trench foot. Interesting.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    That is, of course, an excellant description and history etc. The problem with the photo is that it doesn't always look like that when you see it in the field. Many of us who hike long distances with very heavy packs over tough terrain will have thick callouses on the balls and heels of our feet. Trenchfoot (immersion foot) will have a different look on the bottoms of the feet. It may look almost bleached white or have a yellow tint. Sometimes it will have that customary water wrinkled look or it can look like a moonscape with craters, before it drys out.

    As it states the condition can be very serious. And I cannot agree more with the comment of the marine. It is a leadership problem not a medical problem. It is definetly treated that way in the army. Both the nco's in charge and the enlisted themselves would most likely get an article 15 (Navy captains mast) for a case of trenchfoot. At least when I was in. Same goes for frostbite and sunburn.

    I am not a doctor, nor can I treat or even get a clinical impression through email. If you really think you have a problem or if you start getting pain or it doesn't look like you are healing properly please see your doctor.

    Keith
    WEMT
    Last edited by SAR-EMT40; 05-31-2005 at 05:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member cp2000's Avatar
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    I had to put up with this problem for 3 winters in a row. It is trench foot. The medical name for it is Chill Blains. It accures when your extremites ie the toes and in my case fingers are exposed to moister or extream changes to temps. This last winter my problem got so bad that I could stand on a cold bathroom floor while shaving then get into the shower and within 2-3 minutes my feet were in such bad pain that it was many hours afterward until I could fall asleep. I saw a few doctors down in concord nh and was told there was nothing I could do about it.

    This winter I got fed up and went and saw a local doctor. He told me of a trick that the greenbay packers used to do which was putting cayenne pepper in your shoes. Sounds crazy, but it worked to my amazment. This was the first winter in years that I could even fathom taking a hike.

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    Senior Member cp2000's Avatar
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    Oh ya almost forgot Arnaca gel helps it also. Can be found at organic food stores and the like.

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    Sounds like what I had once hitch-hiking cross country in the winter. Did'nt and couldn't take care of it and ended up not walking for over a week. Complete strangers took me in until healed. Take care of it right away.

  10. #10
    Team Member Barry Sr's Avatar
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    Keepn' it dry

    I served as a Hospital Corpsman with the Marines during the Viet Nam era.

    One of my priority jobs was foot care. There are films n such on the subject but the best advise that has already been given is keep your feet dry.

    If they get wet during the day, change up them socks frequently.
    Use powder, I like one that also serves as an antifungal as well.

    In wet season, the only thing that keeps me from really traveling ultra light is the pounds upon pounds of socks I take along.

    What you described is a minor case, check out this shot from WW1.
    Korea was notorious for being the worse war for conditions leading to
    trench/immersion foot.

    Nasty Feet
    I've been gone so long, going home seems like movin' on.

  11. #11
    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    Same hike, equally wet feet, and mine are fine. I'm sorry it picked you and not me...
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    I bring a change of socks even on day-hikes. If I hike to a summit, the first thing I do is remove boots and socks, allowing my feet to air-dry. Then I slip on a fresh pair of Smartwools. Ahhh!


    Same goes for my t-shirt, even in winter; a change of socks and shirt is very refreshing.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Puck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cp2000
    Oh ya almost forgot Arnaca gel helps it also. Can be found at organic food stores and the like.
    a calendula/hypericum gel could work better. found in the same place.
    Trail adopter Dry river Cut-off.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Mr. X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stinkyfeet
    WOW Barry!

    My feet look absolutely... feminine compared to those!!!!!!

    Yeah right Stinky! I had first hand experience...J/K

    -X
    Dude, I don't even hike that much! We have, problem?

  15. #15
    Senior Member MEB's Avatar
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    thanks!

    Hey Everyone,

    Thanks for the information. Next time I go hiking in wet weather for an extended period of time I will be doing things a bit different. Swamp feet are nasty!

    First, I had new foot beds in my boots and I should have worn a thinner sock and taken the time to losen my boots after we started. Second, I should have taken the time to wring my socks out more than once after our first river crossing (Amy had stopped several times to do this, very smart!) I had thought about bringing camp shoes but the thought of adding more weight to my already heavy pack was rather daunting! Although my feet were dry and warm in my sleeping bag I probably should have changed my socks more frequently too.

    Anyway, the swelling has gone down but they are still a little red and puffy and I've decided to take this week off from the gym to let them heal.
    -MEB

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