Unique Foot Problem, Got Advice?
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Matthew Swierkowski
(Berserker) - F

Locale: Southeast
Unique Foot Problem, Got Advice? on 11/13/2009 09:41:11 MST Print View

I am curious to know if anyone else has this problem, and how to solve it. Basically in a nutshell once my feet get wet, and in particular pruned up I am screwed. What I mean by this is that after a good pruning the skin on soles ends up getting very tender once dried, and feels like it is burning. Subsequent bouts of getting them wet (either from rain or sweat) just makes the problem worse, and it becomes painful to walk on them. A cycle then ensues that involves a long (1 – 2 month) process where the burning subsides, the skin gets real leathery, it all peels off, and then I’m good to go again with a whole new layer. It’s almost like a snake shedding it’s skin.

Anyway, from what I can tell it appears to be a somewhat unique issue that I haven’t found much info on. I don’t believe it to be a fungal issue, skin infection or anything of that nature as I have never had to treat it in any way. It’s also very predictable in that it can always be reproduced with certain conditions (I have had this happen several times), and the cycle as mentioned above always follows the same course. The problem seems to revolve around moisture, whether it be from outside sources (i.e. rain) or from within (i.e. sweat). I have tried many things to keep my feet as dry as possible, and still haven’t found a way to fully eradicate this problem.

I started off using waterproof boots, and would change my socks once a day. The problem occurred regularly, and I believe it was due to my feet getting wet from sweat. Then I tried changing my socks several times a day (i.e. carrying a couple of pairs and drying out the ones not in use by hanging them on my pack), and this helped out significantly. As part of the sock changing routine I also regularly take breaks to take my shoes off to air my feet out. Then I made the move to well ventilated (not waterproof) trail runners rotating in dry socks regularly whilst taking breaks, and that helped even more. As a matter of fact I have gone on a couple of trips in the trail runners using this method where the problem didn’t arise. It should be noted though that these were relatively dry trips where it either didn’t rain or rained very little.

Then there was the most recent trip where I spent an entire day hiking in rain. The trail runners got wet, and there wasn’t much I could do to keep my feet dry as rotating socks wasn’t going to resolve the issue (I wanted to keep a pair or two dry). My feet eventually pruned up, and the last day I got the burning. As another data point it is also of interest that I have this issue on a normal basis too. For example, if I am sitting at my desk at work all day, and I leave my shoes on (leather) the entire time the soles of my feet will become somewhat irritated (again probably getting moist from sweat). Taking the shoes off periodically seems to resolve it.

The bottom line is it appears my feet need to stay as dry as possible while hiking or else. Unfortunately this just isn’t practical 100% of the time. I’m going to keep trying things to get as much ventilation as possible, but I haven’t figured out a way to deal with rain. I was thinking of trying Gore Tex socks or something similar, but I may still develop the issue from sweating.

So, all just to ask the following questions:
1. Has anyone ever heard of this?
2. Does anyone who knows what this is know how to deal with it?

Sorry for the lengthy post. I appreciate anyone’s advice on how to resolve this.

Jim Carr
(jcarr) - F

Locale: Humboldt County
dry feet on 11/13/2009 13:48:25 MST Print View

I read somewhere that you can use anti-persperent on your feet to keep them from sweating. It said to start about 3 days before the hike and not to use it on the tops of your feet. If I can find the article I will post it. Good luck.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Unique Foot Problem, Got Advice? on 11/13/2009 13:55:59 MST Print View

Hard to say, ... but you could try this. It is based on my experience that shoes which are too narrow will often cause pain under the feet. However, it does not necessarily address the 'leather' problem, although i have had that effetc myself after some very long walks.

Go to a shoe store and get your feet measured on a Brannock device. That will give you both the length AND the width of your feet. Then buy some cheapish joggers which are wide enough to match what the Brannock device says. Do NOT compromise. Go walking in the wet and see what happens.

Chers

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Unique Foot Problem on 11/13/2009 14:55:00 MST Print View

Disclaimer: I'm not a medical person

Some of what you describe is very close to the symptoms of some skin fungus infections (I've been through something similar). If I were you, I'd include a trip to a dermatologist to check it out. If that isn't the underlying cause, then you've eliminated a whole bunch of possible treatments.

Edited by Beep on 11/13/2009 14:56:08 MST.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Unique Foot Problem, Got Advice? on 11/13/2009 15:44:23 MST Print View

“I started off using waterproof boots, and would change my socks once a day.”

In this situation, I’ve found that socks need to be diligently changed every hour for a highly sweaty guy.

Just sitting, my feet also sweat in leather shoes.
For the last 5+ years, I now wear socks w/ sandals to work, backpacking, biking, etc. No one really knows I’m wearing sandals at work since they’re black and my socks are black.
I walk in the rain with them. Yes the feet are wet while raining. But a night time of rest helps dry out the feet. Plus the sandals will always be dry in less than an hour.

I’ve seen your problem before with a few of the youth I backpack with. NO ONE with sandals got your condition. But a few of the trail runner group gets the cracked prune skin.

Even a breathable wet shoe will keep your foot wet longer than an open aired open toed sandal.

Also, in the end, athlete’s foot will disappear and thus no more powder is needed. I had that problem for 30+ years!

Just something to try…

May everyone find their foot zen.
-Barry

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Unique Foot Problem, Got Advice? on 11/13/2009 23:14:24 MST Print View

Polypropylene socks might help by keeping moisture away from your feet.

Mesh insoles might help by keeping your feet off the more moist bottom of the shoe. They can be found online at surplus stores because they're used in jungle combat boots. They're also available (and more expensive) at Canadian outdoor gear stores due to their use in cold weather boots.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Unique Foot Problem: Sounds Fungal to me on 11/17/2009 14:14:31 MST Print View

That sounds like a fungus.

I've had similar issues- especially when wearing boots. My solution is to use an antifungal foot cream every morning on multi-day hikes. I wear wool socks every day whether at home, work, or hiking. I also switched to work shoes that breathe- cheaper leather shoes have a plastic coating to simulate real top-grain.

Look into Hydropel and Sportslick- both available at the BPL shop.