‘Playa Foot’: What To Know About The Condition Amid Burning Man Festival Chaos


TikTok videos show Burning Man festival goers walking barefoot in the wetness caused by storming, leading to warnings from festival organizers their bare feet touching the wet mud puts them at risk of playa foot, or a chemical burn, caused by the alkali dust that makes up the Black Rock Desert and Black Rock Playa.

Key Facts

Marked by redness, pain and swelling, “Playa Foot” is a chemical burn that Burning Man organizers say is not serious but uncomfortable.

Festival organizers recommend attendees wear closed-toe shoes, boots and socks so as to not interact with the playa dust.

If a Burning Man attendee comes in contact with the mud or wishes to prevent it, event organizers recommend washing feet in a mixture of ¼ vinegar and ¾ water a couple of times a day and drying them thoroughly to remove the dust.

For those who have been wearing closed-toe shoes, boots and socks and wish to be proactive, Burning Man organizers recommend applying antibiotic ointment to the soles of the feet.

Key Background

Once Lake Lahontan 15,000 years ago, the 200-square mile Black Rock Playa, which makes up the setting for the Burning Man Festival, is full of dry, alkaline flats. The Black Rock Desert is the largest example of such and the alkali soil, or soil that has a pH over 7, makes playa foot unique to the area. For one week out of the year, the area forms Black Rock City and welcomes tens of thousands of attendees. This year, though, the gates of Black Rock City were shut and 73,000 attendees were asked to conserve water as the area was inundated with heavy rainfall and flash flooding that left the playa, or a dry, no-vegetation flat area, muddy. Officials are currently investigating one attendee’s death.

Further Readings

Burning Man Festivalgoers Battle Heavy Rains And Foot Deep Mud—See Photos (Forbes)

Burning Man: 1 Dead As Flooding Strands Thousands At Nevada Desert Festival (Forbes)

Burning Man Doused: 73,000 Stuck At Festival Amid Unprecedented Rain, Muddy Conditions (Forbes)

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