Trench foot (immersion foot) is a cold injury that occurs gradually over several days of exposure to cold, but not freezing, temperatures. The name comes from World War I troops who developed symptoms after standing in cold, wet trenches.

Signs and symptoms of trench foot include:

  • Red skin that turns pale and swollen.
  • Numbness or burning pain.
  • Leg cramps.
  • No actual freezing of the skin.
  • A slow or absent pulse in the foot.
  • Development of blisters or ulcers after 2 to 7 days.

First aid for trench foot includes rewarming the affected areas, relieving pain, and preventing problems such as infection or dead skin (gangrene).

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine