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Is it true that people who are always barefoot don’t get athlete’s foot?

There have been a lot of studies lately about the positive aspects of going barefoot—and one of these is a reduced risk of athlete’s foot. In a recent study published in The Journal of the National Association of Chiropodists, researchers discovered that less than 1% of habitually barefooted people in China and India ever suffered from athlete’s foot.

There are a number of reasons why barefooted populations do not suffer athlete’s foot, including: 

  • Ventilation. Bare feet have maximum airflow on all surfaces, as well as being exposed to sunlight, a natural fungal deterrent.
  • Hardy skin. Walking barefoot encourages tougher skin on the soles, making it harder for the fungus to take hold.
  • Toe shape. Regular shoe-wearing forces toes to grow firmly pressed together, encouraging cramped spaces where fungus can thrive. However, people who have never worn shoes have splayed toes, giving the fungus no safe environment to grow.

While it may seem like going barefoot is a good way to relieve common athlete’s foot symptoms, you must remember that it will only be effective in an all-barefoot population. For those who must wear shoes for work and daily walking, it will not be as effective—especially if others who are going barefoot are spreading the fungus to other surfaces. 

Going barefoot even in your own home can be problematic, since you can infect family members or even spread a healing infection back to yourself, resulting in a recurring case of athlete’s foot. Walking in clean, dry socks and well-ventilated shoes remain the best forms of treatment for a shoe-wearing society—both to relieve your suffering and stop the spread of infection.

For more foot care tips from a trusted Philadelphia podiatrist, contact HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or at 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up a consultation.