Playa foot

I think I touched on it back in the beginning (in between creating man and naming stars), but it can be – or is – an issue.

I haven’t thought too much about it, as so far burners seem to be heat-scared yella bellied sissies!

Me, I run barefoot over rocks, grass and riverstreams yearlong in hundreds of degrees weather, so I ain’t skeered!

Well, except the “sand” there is a whole other cthulu. Here’s some more specific info:

Playa powder is a base, the opposite of an acid, and it burns your skin just like an acid. To treat your skin (feet, hands, whatever), first remove the powder. When the powder mixes with a liquid (sweat, tears, saliva, mucous, sun tan lotion), it can cause burns on whatever it’s on. So remove it. To reverse the action, add an acid (to reverse a flame burn, add cool water, to reverse an acid burn, add a base) – he suggests 1 part plain white vinegar to 3 parts water. Dry the skin. Assuming it’s not a bad burn (and it’s likely not), add moisturizer at night and sleep in it. Adding moisturizer before you head out may cause playa powder to stick to your skin and become moist, so use your judgment.

The evidence of a base burn on the playa is a crack in the skin that’s black and doesn’t bleed – the burn cauterized the wound. That’s what I get in my feet if I don’t wear shoes and sock – your mileage will vary; some people are not affected at all – lucky devils.

The instructor recommends washing, adding the vinegar solution, and drying at least once a day; moisturizing at night when you’ve hit the sack.

Ew! Crazy! Black cracks in my skin! Because it instantly cauterizes?? Yowsa.

If sweat makes it worse, and I’m walking around in all this dust, sweating because it is hot, with my hands exposed and whatnot…hm. Eck.

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5 Responses to “Playa foot”

  1. erosissa Says:

    I frequently go barefoot IRL, but I was scared to go barefoot at BM the first year due to these warnings about playa foot. When I finally took my shoes off, it was the best thing I could have done for my playa comfort. The playa is a barefooter’s paradise – the ground is cool, flat, smooth, and there are no rocks in sight. The heals of my feet are very cracked, so I was still worried about playa foot. Once a day, I washed my feet in a little basin of water with a little vinegar, then applied lotion. It was a nice little relaxation moment in the heat of the day, and I never had any troubles with my feet at all. Now, unless I’m in shoes for a costume, I don’t wear shoes on the playa at all. YMMV, of course, but you’re not automatically destined to have issues.

    • Eric Cooper Says:

      Yes, thank you. My wife and I are barefooters. Not full time, but mostly. Thank you for some sanity with respect to this issue.

      • J Says:

        Well, you’re welcome! I’ve got three years under my belt, now, and still go barefoot whenever I want. Heck, I rode a bike and stood in the ice line barefooted! Not one thing works for many! Thanks for reading!!

  2. Runaway Says:

    You don’t do a lot of sweating out there — it dries almost too quickly to notice.

    Issa and Rebecca both spend a lot of time barefoot on the playa and have no problems. If I’m not going far, I wear open shoes (Keens or Crocs) and don’t have trouble either. By the end of the week, my feet feel a little more sensitive than normal, but not bad.

    Your mileage may vary. I also know people who have huge problems with it. I think the key is to not wear new shoes — only wear well-broken-in shoes so that you can avoid blisters. Blisters suck out there.

  3. Brody Says:

    Some people get playa foot, others do not. I notice that the people who DO get playa foot are the same ones who super-obsessively wash their feet 20 times a day in vinegar water and scrub and freak and put stuff on them and generally carry on.

    Tip: don’t get a pedicure before the playa, if you’re that type. (I’ve never had one, so I dunno, but I guess it takes callouses off and makes your feet more sensitive).

    This’ll be my 6th year, and while I don’t go barefoot MUCH, I definitely schlub around camp in flip-flops, and wear open Keens when I go out and about. I clean my feet once a day when I take a shower, and just wipe them with a baby wipe before bed and maybe put some lotion on. Shrug.

    I actually kinda like playa dust. It feels silky, like talcum powder. And EVERYONE looks more attractive when they’re dusty.

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