Trench foot

History of the Identification of Trench Foot

During World War I, trench warfare was a common combat tactic in Europe. Soldiers found themselves standing in wet, muddy trenches for long periods of time.

In 1914 it was observed that trench foot mostly affected the toes, but it sometimes involved the legs, which would swell up as far as the knee area. When it worsened, there were blisters filled with clear fluid that smelled foul, like gangrene.

The result was that over 20,000 British troops were reportedly treated for trench foot. It is estimated that nearly 75,000 British soldiers and 2,000 American soldiers died from health conditions that involved complications from trench foot (or from conditions that were complicated by the disorder).

But, trench foot was first discovered further back in history. In fact, it was described by a French army surgeon named Dr. Dominique Jean Larrey during Napoleon’s fight with Russia in the Patriotic War of 1812.

Trench foot is not very common among the civilian population, but it can be seen in homeless people, due to unsanitary conditions and the inability to keep feet warm and dry. The condition is also seen in fishermen because they are prone to having wet feet for long time spans, as well as hikers.

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