young woman hiking barefootWe all love summer. The warmth of the sun on our skin. The ease of looser clothing. The desire to let your toes breathe by going barefoot.

While I'm no different from you in loving that barefoot feeling, as a podiatrist I also know the hazards that come with this summertime activity. Too many of patients have suffered from foot injuries as a result of going shoeless.

Here are 5 hazards to consider when you think about going barefoot:

Thorns, Nails, Glass, and Hair Can Embed in Your Feet

Every summer I have to remove a fair share of thorns, nails, glass, and hair from people's feet. You may think folks are walking barefoot all over the place, but that's not true. Most are simply walking around their homes and their own backyards. Recently I removed a dog hair from a patient's foot, but I've also removed human hairs.

You may love the idea of gardening or mowing your lawn while barefoot. But rose thorns and mowers can wreak havoc on your feet. So make sure you don closed toed shoes particularly when cutting the grass.

Risk of A Heel Pain Flare-Up

If you're prone to plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis you shouldn't go barefoot, even in your own home. During the pandemic I've seen too many people with heel pain caused by barefoot walking and barefoot exercising while at home. Many people at risk for these heel pain conditions have flat feet or low arches. When you go barefoot the plantar fascia is more likely overstretch, which can cause a flare-up.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts, also called verrucas, are usually harmless but they can become painful. They are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) and enter the feet through small cuts and abrasions. Children are more likely to get warts than adults. To prevent your child from getting warts limit their barefoot wanderings as much as possible.

Fungal Foot and Toenail Infections

Fungus loves damp places. Pools, gyms, and locker rooms are among its favorite places to hang out. To reduce your chance of acquiring Athlete's foot or a toenail fungus infection, avoid going barefoot.

Stubbing Your Pinky Toe


Stubbing your little toe is quite common particularly in the summer when you're more likely to walk around your house and outside barefoot. Wearing shoes will prevent this from occurring. Treatment most commonly includes buddy taping your 5th toe to the 3rd and 4th toes and wearing a rigid shoe or surgical sandal. 

Avoid Going Barefoot If You're Diabetic

Many people with diabetes have a decreased ability to feel heat or pain through their feet. This means they're less likely to recognize when they've developed a cut or stepped on a hot surface, putting them at greater risk for infection. Infections can lead to ulcers and amputation. For this reason, people with diabetes should never go barefoot.

How to Reduce Your Risk

So you know you need to wear some form of footwear to avoid the risks just described. But which shoes are best?

You may be tempted to simply slip on a pair of flip flops. But first, you need to consider your activity. If you're planning a trip to the beach or pool, flip flops are ideal. But they're a terrible choice if you plan on doing any significant walking or other physical activity. Flip flops have no support and have provide little protection for your feet.

If you want a sandal that will give you that feeling of freedom but won't sacrifice support, choose the Vionic Wave Toe Sandal. is an excellent choice. I recommend these sandals to my patients who are recovering from heel pain. They are ideal for indoor use. If you want a shoe that will go the extra mile, go for a sandal with straps like a Teva, or a more enclosed shoe like a Keen.

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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