Monday, March 13, 2017

Why kids should not go barefoot in locker rooms!

My children take swim lessons twice per week at our local YMCA, and I often exercise there myself several days per week. Over the years, I have noticed that both children and adults alike walk around the locker rooms, showers, bathrooms, and the pool barefoot, and this is not safe for the feet. People probably think the chlorine from the pool and regular cleaning of the locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms make them safe for our feet. However, warm, moist environments like pools, locker rooms, showers, bathrooms, and similar areas are great environments for viruses, bacteria, and fungi to grow and thrive. Warts are a common foot issue, and they are caused by a virus that is present commonly in warm, moist environments. Warts can present as raised areas on the feet (like bumps) or calloused areas. They can look white or have red or black dots throughout. They hurt when compressed from side to side, but depending on the location on the feet, they can cause significant pain with walking or by rubbing on shoes. Warts are easier for children to acquire due to their developing immune systems, but any human can get them. They are very challenging to treat, as our warm, sweaty shoes and socks can allow them to multiply. Thus, wearing a sandal of some sort at the pool or in locker rooms can protect the feet from this virus. Warts on the feet are challenging to manage at home, and they often require several visits to a podiatrist. Athlete's foot can be acquired in locker rooms especially, as the various fungi that cause this condition, again, like warm, moist environments. Athlete's foot or tinea pedis causes itchy, blistered, painful, and potentially raw skin on the feet and between the toes. It can rapidly worsen and spread because our feet are in warm, sweaty shoes and socks. Athlete's foot itself is uncomfortable, but it can get out of hand by progressing to open sores and secondary bacterial infections that will require medication and additional medical care. Finally, walking barefoot in locker rooms can lead to puncture wounds (sharp objects, pebbles, dropped items) or foreign objects entering the foot (splinters, metal pieces, hair). Some type of shoe or sandal can protect the bottom of the foot from stepping on unwanted objects. Wounds on the bottom of the feet and foreign objects can easily lead to pain and infection on the bottom of the child's foot. Protect your child's feet at the pool and in locker rooms! Dr. Bender, 708-763-0580