Trench disease

What is trench disease?

Trench disease is a condition caused by prolonged exposure to damp, cold and unsanitary conditions. As a result, the feet become numb, discolored, swollen and start to smell bad due to the damage to the skin, blood vessels and nerves in the lower part of the feet.

Recovery from this condition is very long and difficult and usually takes between 3 and 6 months and timely treatment is essential to prevent gangrene and leg amputation.

What are the symptoms?

The disease mostly affects the heels, toes, and sometimes even the whole foot. Classic symptoms are a colder than usual foot, swelling, skin discoloration and the foot turning white or gray and may become numb. The affected person usually feels heaviness in the foot, it is painful and the pains are described as stabbing.

In the early stages of the development of the disease, blood vessels constrict from excessive cooling and humidity, and as a result of reduced blood flow, tissues begin to suffer from a lack of oxygen. The foot becomes cold, numb, slightly swollen, very painful and changes color.

If the disease is allowed to progress, tissues and nerves begin to be damaged. The swelling increases and the stabbing pains become constant. In very severe cases, blisters and sores form, the skin begins to whiten and the tissues begin to necrose, and this leads to the development of gangrene.

What are the causes?

As has been said, trench disease is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to moisture and cold temperatures and by not being able to change wet shoes and socks, or simply by ignorance or carelessness . Blood vessels constrict in an attempt to maintain normal temperature, but blood flow to the legs decreases.

With the reduced blood supply, the amounts of oxygen and nutrients that are provided to the tissues of the legs from the blood flow also decrease. Unlike frostbite, low temperatures are not required for the disease to develop. It can also develop at extremely high air temperatures of up to 160 degrees Celsius.

Any moist environment, be it from excessive sweating when not changing shoes and socks, can cause trench disease. You can even spend less than a day with soaked shoes and socks and changes in the tissues of the feet can begin. Nowadays, the disease most often occurs in construction workers, tourists, security guards and in general people who spend most of their time outdoors.

Treatment of Trench Disease

It is very important that treatment be started immediately to prevent permanent tissue damage.

  1. Wash and dry your feet. Use antibacterial and antifungal soaps and leave your feet in the air for a while without covering them with anything.
  2. Warm your feet gently to improve blood circulation. Soak the feet in warm water for about 5 minutes or stand near a heater. Be very careful and dip your toe in the warm water first to avoid burning the already damaged skin on your feet.

Soaking your feet in water with potassium permanganate added will help bring out of the excess fluid that caused the swelling of the foot.

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