5 Dangers of Going Barefoot
New research suggests that kicking off your shoes can help strengthen your feet, legs, and lower back, avoid foot problems like hammertoe and bunions, and even minimize the sweaty environment where bacteria and fungi thrive. But walking without shoes has many hidden dangers: stepping on sharp metal or glass; picking up a stray virus like plantar fasciitis, a parasite like hookworm, or a bacteria like pseudomonas; not to mention risking breaking or severing a toe.
If you worry about these risks, you may want to try an option like a "shoeless" fitness shoe that encases your feet in rubber like a glove, with pockets for each toe and a very thin sole. But if nothing beats being fully barefoot for you, follow these tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons to reduce your risk and deal with any issues immediately.
Apply sunscreen to the top AND bottom of feet.
Feet burn easily - especially sensitive soles that aren't used to the sun. The risk of skin cancer developing on your feet is rare, but has been known to happen.
Keep your tetanus shot up to date.
Tetanus is fairly easy to contract if you step on a sharp object. Teens and adults should get a booster shot every 10 years.
Wear flip-flops when walking around pools, wet grass, and locker rooms.
Moist environments encourage fungi, viruses, and bacteria to grow and can break down skin's natural water barrier. The anti-slip surfaces you find around pools can also scrape your feet, leaving them more susceptible to infection.
See a doctor within 24 hours if you puncture your foot.
Even if your injury seems minor, any puncture can lead to complications ranging from infection to muscle damage. You should have a professional examine and clean the wound.
Keep your shoes on if you have diabetes
The risk of complications for diabetics outweighs the benefits of going barefoot. Diabetics may not be able to feel a minor injury and their impaired circulatory system may prevent normal healing.
Use common sense
Never go barefoot around a campfire or grill, where you're at high risk for burning yourself. And never, ever, operate a lawnmower without wearing shoes. It may sound obvious, but several people a year experience serious injuries from going barefoot in situations where common sense would say it's dangerous.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.