Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers

SATURDAY June 28, 2008 -- Going barefoot is one of the simple pleasures of summer, but some who doff their shoes and socks suffer injuries such as cuts and puncture wounds. In some cases, those injuries develop infections that require surgery.

If you do go barefoot, check out these safety tips from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons:

  • Make sure you're vaccinated against tetanus. Teens and adults should get booster shots every 10 years.
  • Apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of your feet to protect them from sunburn. Rare, but deadly, skin cancers can develop on the feet.
  • Wear flip-flops or sandals around swimming pools, locker rooms and beaches. They'll help protect against cuts and abrasions from rough anti-slip surfaces and sharp objects hidden in beach sand, and prevent contact with viruses and bacteria that can cause athlete's foot, plantar warts and other foot problems.
  • Use common sense. Every year, people lose toes while mowing the lawn barefoot and others suffer serious burns from accidentally stepping on stray campfire coals or fireworks. Remember that murky rivers, lakes and ponds can conceal sharp objects underwater.
  • People with diabetes should never go barefoot, even indoors, because they may not "feel" a foot injury.
  • If you suffer a puncture wound in your foot, see a doctor within 24 hours. A puncture wound must be cleaned properly and monitored throughout the healing process to avoid complications such as tissue and bone infections or damage to tendons or muscles in the foot.
  • Inspect your feet on a routine basis for skin problems such as warts, calluses, ingrown toenails, suspicious moles, spots or freckles. The sooner a condition is detected, the easier it is to treat.

More information

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has more about puncture wounds.

Posted: June 2008


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