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.