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Can You Still Get ‘Trench Foot’ Today?

Can You Still Get ‘Trench Foot’ Today?

Trench foot is NOT a thing of the past. In Kentucky, this is especially true if you are a coal miner. They know all too well about damp, wet environments. It’s one of many skin conditions that affect the feet.

Not a Soldier? You Can Still Get It.

It’s not just an occupational thing either for soldiers or miners. Recreational activity lovers of hiking and camping should know the risks.

Think about this…if it is scheduled to rain at your favorite outdoor, three day music festival and you see yourself slogging through the mud and standing for hours in ankle deep sludge listening to your favorite band – take precautions.

Although not as common today as it was during World War I, trench foot is still something to be wary of.

What is Trench Foot?

The name, ‘trench foot’, developed as a slang term when soldiers during the First World War, had to stand in trenches for days without waterproof boots and were diagnosed with this foot condition.

The affliction can take hold when you stand in water for long amounts of time; say ten to thirteen hours or more.

Is Jungle Rot the Same as Trench Foot?

Jungle Rot is another slang term for a similar foot immersion condition that was prevalent in the Vietnam War.

Basically, the foot, feet or toes affected turn numb and either red or blue from the decreased vascular blood flow. Then the gross stuff starts to happen. Your feet can swell and have a smell of decay from the onset of cell death (necrosis).

What If I Suspect I Have Trench Foot? 

You should be evaluated because the next stages involve open sores and blisters that lead to foot fungus. If continually left unchecked, gangrene (the foot or toes turn black) sets in and then amputation may be necessary.

The good news is that if you treat the feet early, complete and total recovery is possible. Prevention really is the key though, because once you contract trench foot (this goes the same for frostbite), you are much more likely to develop it again in the future.

How to Prevent Trench Foot

  • If you notice that your feet are damp or very sweaty, wash your feet with clean water and soap and towel them off.
  • Keep extra socks with you so that you can air out your others and allow them to dry.
  • If you’re in a situation with no way to dab and towel off your feet, air dry them and keep the circulation flowing to your feet. It will take time, but it’s necessary.
  • If you’re going to be camping, hiking, working or just enjoying a festival show and the conditions happen to be less than ideal, check your feet regularly.

Even better, do like the soldiers in WWI were required to do – check your partner’s feet. Yeah, it’s a hassle to strip out of your boots and socks, but it’s worth it. Like the propaganda poster says, “Keep feet clean and dry.”


If you suspect you have a form of foot fungus or are not sure about the condition of your feet, call 859-264-1141 or make an online appointment.

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