Oh those first warm, sunny days! Makes you want to take your shoes off and walk barefoot through the new green grass. At Paul Klein, DPM FACFAS, we don’t want to rain on your spring parade but it’s important to be aware of some significant risks to your feet if you choose to go barefoot.
Puncture wounds—the most obvious risk is stepping on a sharp object that punctures or cuts the skin. Broken glass, nails, even sharp stones can pose a risk and be hard to see in grass, a picnic area or in a lake or stream. Any time you break the skin there’s a risk of infection. Sometimes objects may be embedded deeply and not visible to the eye. If you do end up with a wound be sure to wash it thoroughly and get it examined by the foot doctor. Make sure you’ve kept up with your tetanus shots too.
Infection—bacterial and fungal infections are spread by direct contact. Any surface that someone with an infection has walked on puts you at risk for contracting that infection. Common examples include: athlete’s foot, fungal toenails and warts. Be sure to wear flip flops at public pools and beaches, changing rooms and bathrooms.
Sun damage—be sure to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet and, if you are going to go barefoot, the bottoms as well. Inspect your own and your children’s feet regularly for unusual moles or freckles and bring them to the attention of our podiatrist, Dr. Paul G. Klein. Many times skin cancers on the foot progress to advanced stages because they are not detected for a long time.
Injuries—leaving your feet unprotected by shoes can also increase the risk of injury. Anything from a burning marshmallow that falls off a stick to more serious lawn mower and casual sports games incidents can be the cause of serious foot injury if feet are uncovered.