Playa Foot

PLAYA FOOT is a malady unique to the Black Rock Desert caused by the alkali dust that makes up the desert. It is, in essence, a chemical burn. The most common cause of playa foot is exposure of your feet to the desert floor by not wearing socks and closed shoes. While this malady is not serious, it is uncomfortable. The good news is that you may easily care for this yourself.


  • Wash your feet well to remove all the playa dust that is embedded in the cracks of your skin. This may require soaking them in a basin of water. Many people recommend adding a small amount of vinegar to the water to neutralize the alkali. 1/4 vinegar and 3/4 water is a good mix.
  • After washing your feet, dry them well and look to make sure you have gotten all the playa dust off of them.
  • If available, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the soles of you feet. This isn’t absolutely necessary and should only be done if you can keep your feet covered with socks and shoes or boots.
  • Keep your feet covered with socks and closed shoes or boots. Failure to do so will only allow your feet to get worse from the accumulation of more dust on your feet.
  • Continue to wash your feet a couple times a day to allow them to heal well.


  • Keep your feel covered as much as possible
  • Wash your feet well each day and apply a moisturizing skin lotion before climbing into bed, and before putting on your socks and shoes for another day of playa life.


  • You see any signs of infection (redness, swelling, increasing pain, red streaks running up your legs)
  • You develop a fever
  • Your feet become so sore that you are no longer able to walk on them