Foot issues

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Having recently suffered from "foot maceration" after a long day of tramping with wet feet, here's an interesting link that will answer all the questions you might have to prevent this (although not always possible). There are three parts to the article which include prevention and treatment. Anyone else suffered from this? What are people's thoughts on general foot management?
Interesting article, thanks for sharing. In hindsight I have definitely suffered from "maceration" though have always just viewed it as popped blisters which have been brought about because my skin was wet and soft. I have had a pretty long history with foot blisters (and I guess now I know maceration too!). This has been partly through lack of knowledge, partly through inappropriate gear and partly through I suspect having slightly soft skin. As background (this is going to get long)...; I have been tramping since pre-school age and in my early and teenage years I never remember getting blisters. Growing up on a farm we just used our farm gear to tramp — so for me work boots and rugby socks. Never a problem until I left the farm and started working in town. Once the farm boots only started being pulled out every few months to go on a tramp my feet started to get destroyed. After a few trips of this I decided something needed to be done. So, I bought a pair of "hiking boots" cheap off Trademe. Having no knowledge what I bought was a full leather four season boot with an extremely stiff shank. These proved slightly better but I still did get some blisters. I continued experimenting and started taping my feet using what I call strapping tape (the flesh coloured stuff you use on your knees or shoulders etc for rugby) which helped. I would tape the hot spots on my heels (inside and out of both feet) and the balls of my feet, though after reading the linked articles I would say this was maceration not blisters. I also upgraded my socks to proper hiking ones (Bridgedale). After a climb of Mt Travers in Nelson Lakes I got extremely bad blisters and decided to change the boots again. This time I went to a sports shop and as I still wanted full leather boots (I did/do a lot of tops travel in the scree and off track trips) I ended up with some Hi-Tec Rainier Event three season boots. These helped a lot and I found as long as I kept taping my feet I seldom had significant blister issues — unless my feet were wet for a long time. (Those maceration pics in the first article are looking really familiar right now!). So, for probably 15 years I pretty much used a combination of Rainier Event boots, Bridgedale socks and taping my feet and it worked pretty well. A few tweaks I made a long the way: At the start I would remove the strapping tape each night and if I felt any potential blistering would rub Ti Tree oil on the spot (Why Ti Tree oil? My aunt was an aromatherapist and I assume she recommended it. I see it is not mentioned in the articles). As I got older, lazier and had less blister problems I stopped removing the tape and would just leave it on even if it got wet and I was on a week-long trip. After reading the links I should go back to removing it especially if it gets wet. Originally I always bought the thickest Bridgedale socks — bluey-green ones — as I figured more thickness = more cushioning = less blisters. However, I did notice that on hot days I would get white wrinkly feet (hello maceration!) which could "blister" so I downgraded in thickness and now also use thinner socks in summer. My wife bought me some Hikers Wool at one stage. Tried it once on a day trip (no tape on feet) got blisters and it stuck all through my socks and I couldn't get it out! Not sure if I used it wrong, but, unfortunately was a fail for my feet. I tried a "synthetic" lighter weight breathable boot briefly (Teva Raith) for a could of trips but wasn't very comfortable in them. I took them on a trip from St Arnaud to the Lewis Pass and the scree pretty much wrecked them so gave them up as a bad idea. I started using sock liners. Not something I thought I would ever do but they do seem to make a difference and the "Coolmax" ones I have do make you feet feel cooler when you put them on so I hope they help reduce sweating maybe a little bit. However, my big break through came about two years ago when talking to a hunting mate who said I should look at some Salomon Speed Cross (or similar) shoes as that is what he uses for deer stalking. As I had a Stewart Island trip planned and wasn't looking at any scree I figured I'd give them a go. They have been a game changer. As the links suggest it is water in, water out. The full-leather boots and knee-high gaitors were great for keeping the feet dry on shallow river crossings and in wet grass but once they got wet they stayed wet and stayed wet all trip. Plus on a hot day I would get the same effect from sweat. These shoes will be dry in an hour of walking after a river crossing. If it is wet all day — or continuous river crossings — they will dry overnight in a hut with the fire going. Over-heating feet and trapped sweat is also not an issue. After swearing by full leather boots for years I would now only use them if going in to the snow. I will even take the "sneakers" in to the scree, it does wreak them (three days in the seaward Kaikouras have just about done for this pair) but it is worth the sacrifice for my feet. I found the links very informative and allowed me to learn a lot of what I put down as blisters was maceration. I now have a could of further ideas for prevention — remove my strapping tape more frequently especially when wet and also put on dry socks where possible. (I have a habit of reusing my wet socks to save my dry ones and often the socks are wetter than my shoes these days.) Thanks so much for the links and sorry for the stupidly long post but this is something that has been a problem for me (along with the blisters) for the nearly 20 years so great to get some info/clarity.
I suspect many of us will have similar long stories and have never heard of foot maceration. After many years of tramping with wet feet I hadn't experienced this until just recently. My feet were a bit softer than normal due to lockdown inactivity so that might have played a part. It seems that there is little you can do if you're walking through water all day - drainable shoes won't have time to dry out and water will leak over the top of sealskin socks (where sweat may be a problem anyway). My delaminated feet were very painful - it was like walking on raw nerves.
I should also say that Hiker's Wool saved the day when I walked out on my macerated feet after a rest day. A buddy gave me some and advised me to put a really thick wodge (thicker than you think necessary) over affected areas/blisters. You may have to get someone to help pull your sock over your foot so that the wool stays in place while the sock is rolled on. After loading, the wool will pack down and become like felt. Most people that use it don't put enough over the blister/hotspot and therefore don't find it works.
I would say you are right with regard to the thickness of Hikers Wool required. I most likely did not use enough. Also, as you mentioned, I had problems getting it to stay in place. Unfortunately being on my own (as with most of my tramps) I did not have another helpful pair of hands nearby!
Also an interesting document, see []([betpokies](
I got macerated feet going up Hunts Creek and over into Dry Creek and the Taipo (APNP) when I wore woollen socks. Since then I've stuck to synthetic socks. It's as though the woollen fibres insinuated their way into my skin more. I changed the socks and borrowed Frank's sandals for the walk out the next day. I'm big on airing the feet both in the outdoors, in the car and at home too. Most of the time I just wear only the Bridgedale coolmax boot liners as socks as modern boots are so well padded. But wearing sandals, it's better to wear thicker and cheap socks which fortunately I find an unlimited supply of in tramping huts (abandoned). I tramped with a mate who got blisters on a 4 day winter trip, bivvy-bagging in the Poulter and the dressings couldn't stick to her soggy macerated feet so she borrowed my sandals and I wore her boots which were a perfect fit.
Something the original original article touches on is the idea that sweat soaked is better than environmental water soaked. I'd back that from my experience. My thinking is as the skin's waterproof barrier starts to break down, the worst thing to have on the outside is pure water, high osmotic pressure will suck the water into the tissue causing problems. Dry would be good, but given the impossibility of that in most places we go, much better is isotonic or hypertonic salt solution AKA sweat, highish salt concentration on the outside won't let the water absorb into your skin/foot tissue. I did a trip Routeburn-Hollyford-Martins Bay-Cascade-Jackson Road in April. Wet - varying between steady rain and torrential thunderstorm rain apart from an off day at Gorge River. Some longish days on wet and rough track or coastal boulders, Demon Trail Hut to Martins Bay, Big Bay to Gorge River. I had a pair of lightish boots with some sort of 'waterproof' membrane I got from a second hand store some time ago. My feet were wet all the time I was walking but fine. The second to last day one of the seams of one boot split so outside water was getting in from every puddle, that foot suffered, especially on the road from Martyr Homestead to the Arawhata bridge. I did another wet trip across the Landsborough and up the Clarke to Marks Flat and back in October. Again, it varied from heavy steady rain to torrential thunderstorm rain apart from the last day out:) Had my more solid Salewa Rapace boots with gortex liner, long days in the rain river crossing and bushbashing, feet wet all the time, my feet were fine, no issues at all. New Year, I did the Five Passes in a cheap pair of Warehouse boots, suede or similar and mesh, no 'waterproof' barrier. They'd been comfortable on local dry tramping, and were fine through until the Beansburn with more river crossings, frequent water in and out through the mesh. I was starting to hobble by the time I got on the Lake Sylvan tourist track. My thinking is a waterproof barrier, whether leather and or gortex/eVent is good, not because it keeps your feet dry, but because it keeps your sweat in and stops the environmental water washing it out. On the other hand, some such as Dodgydave swear by light running shoes or drilling drainage holes in their boots. My thinking is that only makes sense when there is infrequent wetting followed by conditions where they can dry out, otherwise I'd prefer to keep what's in in and what's out out. Curious to hear thoughts, especially those who have done long continuous Fiordland trips with wet feet for weeks on end. Also any thoughts on road walking. I can usually do multiple long days on rough or non existent tracks in the wet with few problems, but then give me a half day along a gravel road with boots and a pack on and I'm really suffering. This in spite of doing a couple of up to 30 km runs on such a surface in dry running shoes each week. Lastly - thoughts on toughening up your feet. Does frequent wet tramping toughen your feet for wet tramping or is it just miles on your feet/footwear combination? I do quite a bit of local running and semi running day trips in the mountains here, nearly always dry. Almost no weekend tramping with a pack on, but then every three months I do a 7-9 day trip in the real mountains, mostly without any problems apart from when I have to do the odd road bash.
I think for me the problem was a 14 hour day on softer than normal feet. While I crossed some streams, it was a stinking hot day and I'd packed thick warm socks anticipating it would be cooler at altitude (it wasn't). So my feet were definitely sweating. It wasn't until 12 hours in that my feet started feeling sore. Drainable runners, a shorter day and coolmax socks may have prevented my scenario, but on a non hot day of constant wet terrain, I think I'd still go with my usual sock/boot combo and perhaps take them off during a lunchbreak to let them breathe. I've never had this issue before on long days with wet feet and boots. I may have Stewart Island coming up so it will be interesting to see how that plays out! I wonder how ultra marathon runners fare - runners seem to be the main feature in the article. I have a renewed appreciation for wartime soldiers with trench feet.
>I have a renewed appreciation for wartime soldiers with trench feet My taxonomy of foot injury would identify perhaps 5 different types : (1) Blisters (2) Maceration as described above: Injury to skin and underlying tissues due to loss of waterproofness, water absorbtion, mechanical damage as it weakens. Can happen in cold and hot conditions (Could be worse in the heat, I've had the worst of this on road walks in wet boots in warm conditions) (3) Non-freezing cold injury: (What I would call trench foot, though some would include maceration in with trench foot, this version is much worse as it is extremely painful and doesn't go away quickly once warm and dry) Injury to the deeper tissues from long exposure to wet, cold but not quite freezing conditions, feet become extremely painful, red and swollen, remain so after warming up and drying. I've had this once, on a week long mid winter Kaimanawas trip, snow on the ground, thigh deep river crossings when the sides of the river, calmer spots were frozen over, then long days in wet snow. (4) Frostbite, where actual tissue is frozen solid. Updated to add: (5) Various bacterial or fungal infections: Cellulitis, athlete's foot and the like.
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Forum The campfire
Started by Wanderwild
On 13 February 2022
Replies 14
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