Minimizing the Risk of Wet Feet


Going on your first hiking trip can be exciting. Before you hit the road, you go to the local sports shop to get all the items you will need. Sleeping bag, tent, canteen, and many other items are bought and checked off your list. Among this list is a pair of new hiking shoes. You stroll over to the shoe section and pick out a pair that seems pretty decent, you grab your size and try them on and as an afterthought ask the young clerk, “Are these waterproof?” Unfortunately for you the clerk has no idea, but won’t say that directly because they don’t want to lose the sale. Instead they dodge the topic and you walk out with a pair of nice but not waterproof shoes.

Fast forward a week later when you are hiking through a river. Not only are your feet soaked, but you are freezing and need to take a break to get things back in order. It’s time to take action and prevent any damage from occurring to your wet feet.

Signs your feet are too damp

1.       Your skin becomes macerated. The skin is sore, itchy, and super soft. If you walk with feet like these, blisters will begin to form rapidly.

2.       The skin begins to severely crack. After the waterlogged feet get overly damp, the natural oils are released from the skin and cause the painful cracking.

Damp foot triage

  • If you have a spare set of regular shoes that are not advertised as waterproof, put them on. This is because waterproof shoes that become damp have a harder time drying out which means more time for fungus to grow and for your feet to be exposed to harsh elements.
  • Swap out your damp socks with merino wool socks. These dry well and quickly.
  • When you are resting, take your shoes off and allow them to air dry or dry out by a fire. This will help prevent blisters, fungus and trench foot.
  • Put dry socks on at the end of your hike. This allows your feet to get warm, release moisture and to heal after hiking in the cold and wet all day.

Dangers of wet feet

  • Wet feet can cause serious foot and ankle complications. Not only can they cause frostbite from being wet and cold for long periods of time, but walking with an open wound can become infected and start a gangrene infection.
  • Besides infection, the feet can also suffer from nerve and tissue damage due to the harsh cold moisture they are trapped in. Blisters and fungus also enjoy growing in wet hiking shoes.

Before you go hiking, it is important to discuss the right type of shoes to wear with your podiatrist. If you pick the wrong equipment it can cost you your foot. Call Achilles Foot and Ankle Surgery, PC located in Martins Ferry, Ohio and St. Clairsville, Ohio, as well as Wheeling West Virginia. There Dr. Bruce G. Blank and his staff can teach you about preventing damp feet while hiking. Call 740-633-4188 or make an appointment online today.