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Avoiding Maceration
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Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Avoiding Maceration on 04/25/2010 21:16:14 MDT Print View

So I went on a dayhike the other day and ended up with severe maceration, and was wondering what causes this and how I can avoid it in the future.

In the past, I've never had it when I was wearing a coolmax Injini liner toe sock covered with a medium weight wool sock from Smartwool. (I also wear trail runners that drain well.) I've hiked in much wetter conditions than I experienced this time and never had a problem. The time that I got the maceration I was wearing the liner socks with a very, very thin wool sock over them. I'm wondering if that could have contributed to the problem? Also, these are different trail runners than I'm used to (New Balance, rather than my old Adidas supernovas), so it's possible that the sole of these shoes retains water more? It's strange because it was a medium-hot day and I only crossed one stream a few times back and forth, so there was only one period where I got my feet wet. It didn't rain all day. Any help appreciated...?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Avoiding Maceration on 04/25/2010 21:34:23 MDT Print View

Hydropel worked pretty well for me on the Lost Coast hike. My feet were wet pretty much the entire time.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Avoiding Maceration on 04/26/2010 00:00:56 MDT Print View

Maceration is not a term that I'm very familiar with. So I googled it, and didn't find much helpful info. Can you describe it? What I've learned is that it presents as peeling skin, perhaps commonly caused by repeated wet/dry cycles, like sweaty feet that dry out, then sweat again. Is it just peeling all over your feet? What's it look like?

William Johnson
(Steamboat_Willie)
Court Martial for Junior on 04/26/2010 00:43:12 MDT Print View

If you go and watch, "Platoon" you'll see Junior get in trouble for spraying skeeter repellent on his feet to simulate maceration.

Maceration, in terms of what you might find on the bottom of your soaked feet, is when they've been wet for so long (shrivelled, whitish and puffy) that the skin begins losing its protective properties.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Court Martial for Junior on 04/26/2010 00:51:50 MDT Print View

Sounds like Non Freezing Cold Injury (aka Trench Foot)?

William Johnson
(Steamboat_Willie)
Who says, "macerate" anyway? on 04/26/2010 01:36:02 MDT Print View

Maceration could be an aspect of Trench Foot.

For example, nausea, fever, or physical aches could be an aspect of a flu, food poisoning, or an impending visit from in-laws.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Not Trench foot on 04/26/2010 01:44:05 MDT Print View

Maceration occurs before trench foot. It is the condition of having the skin on the feet fold up or wrinkle so much that it's painful to walk on. If not healed, the skin can get infected (fungal usually) leading to trench foot. That's my understanding of it. This was just a dayhike so didn't happen, obviously, but thought it strange considering how I got it on a warm, dry day and a 7 mile hike.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Not Trench foot on 04/26/2010 07:44:31 MDT Print View

Maceration- sign/symptom of skin breakdown from prolonged wet feet plus friction. (may be other causes)

Trench foot- cold injury from cold and wet feet.

You should avoid prolonged soaking wet feet.

1. Let feet dry out at least once during the day (and also overnight) if they are soaked from water crossings.
2. Try skin application like hydropel.
3. Sock combination could be a variable if they do not dry out easily.
4. Shoes that drain well.

Edited by jshann on 04/26/2010 10:46:07 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Not Trench foot on 04/26/2010 08:53:33 MDT Print View

I think this is where lightweight shoes that drain quickly and wearing very thin (if any) socks help. I've seen this in the past, and it was typically with people wearing leather or goretex boots/shoes that didn't dry fast once soaked from inside.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Avoiding Maceration on 04/26/2010 14:52:56 MDT Print View

I have some new balance cheap sneakers that hold in a ton more water than other shoes that appear to be made of similar stuff, so I suppose that it's possible your shoes contributed. I mean, my shoes drain quickly but the fabric itself doesn't dry very quickly. Other shoes I have drain just as quickly but the fabric dries much quicker.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
That's interesting, Piper on 04/26/2010 15:00:01 MDT Print View

I'm gonna give em one more shot, this week, and if it happens again, I'm going back to the Adidas. A shame because these New Balance have much better traction.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Avoiding Maceration on 04/26/2010 15:18:08 MDT Print View

Wow, I wonder what else could have led to it? I just finished around 23-24 miles, lots of steep, prolonged ups and downs (Black Forest Trail in PA), rainy, cool 50s all day, and my feet were never dry after about the first mile (I was either wading in water (repeatedly) or getting my feet wet from the soaked vegetation, they simply never had a chance to dry). Wearing NB MT100s and a pair of Icebreaker ex. light hikers only. My feet weren't even really shrivelled at the end of the day, certainly not painful. Could there have been some fungal problem from something?

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Hrmmm on 04/26/2010 15:59:42 MDT Print View

Well, maybe it was my change of socks?

I changed two factors: sock setup and shoes. So no way to know which was the cause, but I'm going wading in a river for a mile this weekend and will use my old sock set up.

There wasn't any fungal problem. I got home, aired my feet out, and they returned to normal the next day. As far as I understand it, this is what happens: wet feet leads to maceration, which makes skin crack and makes it *more prone* to fungal or bacterial infection. Fungal being more common because it grows in moist areas of skin. So the maceration isn't caused by fungus. They are both caused by water. It wasn't cold at all the day I hiked. It was warm. Very strange, as I've hiked in all day wet weather, colder than this, many times with no problems whatsoever.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Avoiding Maceration on 04/27/2010 11:36:46 MDT Print View

Check out the book "Fixing Your Feet," by John Vonhof. Everything a backpacker or trail runner could ever want to know about foot care--prevention and treatment!

Tom J. Hart
(harttj) - MLife
Fixing Feet on 04/29/2010 20:25:17 MDT Print View

Ahmen to that. Here is the link: http://www.fixingyourfeet.com/