Trench foot is a particularly nasty affliction of the feet caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions.
But if you think trench foot isn’t a risk for anglers, think again. It can take as little as 13 hours to develop what amounts to a serious medical problem.
Read on to discover how good quality fishing boots could literally save your life.
It’s only mud
As every angler knows getting wet and muddy goes with the territory, but you do need to pay attention to your feet. In temperatures below 16 celsius, if your feet get wet, you’re at risk of developing trench foot.
The boots themselves are partly to blame, because all footwear restricts circulation. But how you look after your feet is key.
This is particularly true if an angling trip is scheduled to last more than a single day. Make sure you know the warning signs that your feet are feeling the strain.
The first sign of a foot in trouble is likely to be tingling, or perhaps an itching sensation with pain, swelling and cold, blotchy skin. You may notice areas of redness or blueness indicating blood circulation has been compromised. Alternatively, you may experience numbness or a heavy feeling in a waterlogged foot.
Later on, once you’ve warmed your foot, is the skin suddenly very dry? And are your feet uncharacteristically red, swollen or painful? You may have chilblains but if you’re unlucky – it could be trench foot.
Untreated, trench foot can worsen beyond the point that swelling and blisters develop. Infection can set in and interruption to blood circulation can cause skin to die. At this point there is a significant risk of gangrene.
While you’re unlikely to let a case of cold, wet feet deteriorate to such a degree, it is worth being ‘foot aware’ to prevent very painful and perfectly preventable after effects. If you are worried you might have developed trench foot – seek medical advice.
The best way to stop trench foot in its tracks is to keep your feet warm and dry, also avoid footwear that’s too tight or too loose. Good fishing boots are a must.
But if your feet are likely to get wet, make sure that you pack plenty of dry socks and change them frequently. At night, when you’re tucked up in your bivvy, always check your feet over and treat any blisters.
Leave wet boots and socks off at night, this will give your feet a chance to fully recover, in time for the following days fishing.
Trench foot gets its name from the appalling plight of soldiers during World War One. Men fought for days and weeks in thick mud and standing water. At its peak 20,000 soldiers had diseased feet, and over the course of the war the condition affected a staggering 74,000 allied troops. Some of the soldiers suffered gangrene, amputation and even death.
Combattants in wars as recent as the Falklands have been dogged by trench foot. In the civilian population, festival goers, anglers and hikers have all been affected. But by being prepared and knowing the signs and symptoms – you can stay one step ahead.