Many people don’t consider sandals and flip-flops to be protective footwear – and rightly so. If you work in construction, your foreman would have a conniption fit if you showed up to work in a pair of sandals. Likewise, a pair of sandals would probably be the last thing you’d want to wear at an industrial welding facility.
But sandals are vitally important to protecting your sensitive, invaluable feet against infections. If you have any intention of visiting a public pool, using a public shower, or making a splash at a water park this summer, then you must wear sandals. While you are advised against walking long distances in them, even the cheapest pair of flip-flops will spare your feet from coming into contact with all the dangerous fungi, bacteria and viruses that lie in wait on damp public floors!
Still not convinced? Here are just some of the podiatric infections you can completely avoid by wearing sandals in public places!
Athlete’s foot is a skin infection caused by several genera of fungi such as Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton. They all share one thing in common: They thrive in wet, dark and warm environments, which is another way of saying they love living in locker room showers. There’s little wonder why athlete’s foot is named the way it is.
Athlete’s foot symptoms typically appear between the toes, but can spread across the entire foot and even infect the toenails. They include inflammation, itching, blisters, and dry, peeling skin. The fungi that cause athlete’s foot are hardy, but they’re typically no match for antifungal creams like Lotrimin AF. Still, symptoms can take up to one month to subside, which is why avoiding fungal infection altogether is vastly preferable.
Staph infection is caused by bacteria of the Staphylococcus genera. Interestingly enough, staph bacteria are extremely common. About three out of 10 healthy people currently have them on their skin! But when staph bacteria enter even the tiniest cut on the skin or infect the bloodstream, they can cause symptoms ranging from rashes to life-threatening sepsis.
Staph infection of the feet usually causes blisters and mild skin irritation, but inflamed hair follicles and extreme skin inflammation are not uncommon. Topical antibiotic treatments are typically potent enough to treat bacterial skin infections – but like athlete’s foot, you’re better off avoiding staph completely. In addition to wearing sandals while you’re walking on damp shared surfaces, take care to wipe down pool furniture and gym equipment before using them. Staph is potentially transmissible through any shared surface!
Warts don’t exclusively occur on witches’ noses. They can take root on any part of the skin once it is exposed to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are extremely common thanks to HPV’s ability to undergo skin-to-skin transmission. About 10% of people have them worldwide! But because HPV sheds itself off of infected skin – and because it can live for extended periods of time without a host – the virus can easily lurk on damp surfaces until it comes into contact with bare feet.
When HPV infects feet, it causes plantar warts. The small, rough and sensitive growths most commonly take root on the balls and heels of the feet, which can make walking and standing uncomfortable. Many treatments for plantar warts are available. None are instant or painless, which is just one more reason why your feet belong in sandals while you’re traversing public spaces.
Like HPV, Molluscum contagiosum is a virus. It’s transmissible in a number of different ways, including towel sharing and barefooted walking. When it infects the feet, Molluscum produces small, round, itchy lesions. These typically clear up on their own, although persistent cases of Molluscum often call for prescription-strength topical creams such as podophyllotoxin and potassium hydroxide.
But do you know what’s easier than contracting Molluscum? You guessed it: to avoid contracting it in the first place by wearing sandals when you go to the pool, gym shower or locker room!
If you’re looking for a real pair of sandals – i.e. one that features the arch support, adjustable straps and cushioned midsoles that help to prevent tendonitis, sprains, bunion, hammertoe, blisters, and other painful foot conditions – then we welcome you to come on down to Peak Performance Fitness Gear in Sioux City, IA. In addition to sandals by leading manufacturers like OOFOS, Spenco and PowerStep, we have an expansive selection of high-quality footwear, exercise equipment and athletic apparel in stock!