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Trench foot occurs when feet are exposed to cold and wet condition for a long period of time without immersion or actual freezing. The term “trench foot” was derived from trench warfare in world war-I, when soldiers stood for hours in trenches with few inches of cold water in them. Currently, trench foot and immersion foot are most widely encountered by homeless peoples.

Individual may develop numbness of the feet and distal legs accompanied by skin changes caused by cold injury. Trenchfoot is aggravated by dampness, constrictive foot-wears and immobility. Smoking and peripheral vascular disease contributes to the severity of tissue damage.

Trench Foot Symptoms:

Affected legs are usually cold and anaesthetic. Initially Erythema, swelling and tenderness occurs followed by numbness or tingling sensation, marked swelling and tenderness and sometimes blister formation. If left untreated it may progress to superficial gangrene. Initial ability to sweat may be lost but later there may be excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), cold sensitivity . These changes may persist for months or even years.

Trench Foot Treatment

The most important approach for the treatment is prevention. Once the trench feet has occurred, individual should be removed from the causative environment and the affected limb should be covered with warm cloth or warm hands to maintain the temperature so adequate temperature can be maintained. Complete bed rest and restoration of the circulation are very necessary. Re-warming in water bath between 370 to 430C  is advised, but should be applied only after the patient has been removed from the causative environment. Pain management is also necessary for those suffering from pain. If some tissue is necrosed, excision of necrotic tissue is necessary and if infection occur antibiotics are required.

Similar condition due to cold injury are Frostbite and Chilblains

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