Wearing shoes without socks leads to rise in cases of athlete’s foot, Royal College of Podiatry warns

The trend of wearing shoes without socks is leading to a rise in cases of problems such as athlete’s foot, the College of Podiatry has warned.

The “bare ankle” look has filtered down from the catwalk to the most avid followers of fashion, with designers of menswear showcasing their formal attire with sockless models in suits.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have experimented with the style, including Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Orlando Bloom and Jude Law – and online guides on how to go “sockless with style” are littered with advice on how to adopt the look, with helpful pointers such as only doing it with slim tailored trousers.

Yet beyond the inevitable concern of suffering from smelly shoes brought about by a lack of cotton, it appears men are failing to realise some of the more serious repercussions and are seeking out help from podiatrists and chiropodists.

“As a whole, we are seeing more and more men coming to us with issues caused by poorly fitting footwear, and not just ones choosing to go sockless,” said podiatrist Emma Stevenson, from the College of Podiatry.

Because the phenomenon is still in its early stages, the college is yet to carry out any formal studies to shed light on the number of people affected – but is keen to make sure people are aware of the health problems that might arise.

Feet, for example, typically produce half a pint of sweat a day and any moisture, if not soaked up by socks, is maintained in synthetic and non-breathable material – leaving people open to fungal infections.

One way Mrs Stevenson recommends solving this issue is by placing dry tea bags in shoes overnight to absorb any leftover sweat, while also suggesting men spray their feet with underarm antiperspirant.

She said: “Depending on the level of sweatiness of the foot, there may be issues with too much moisture in the feet, which can leave you vulnerable to fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

“On average your feet will sweat half a pint a day; that’s a lot to be pouring out straight into your shoe without it being absorbed by a sock.

“Many shoes that are available on the high street today may have leather uppers but are lined in synthetic material, which is not breathable. If the lining is not breathable then moisture, heat and bacteria will all be trapped inside the shoe.”

Her advice is to give shoes 48 hours to dry out to prevent bacteria breeding. However Mrs Stevenson, who sits on the council of the College of Podiatry, also points out that ill-fitting footwear and a lack of socks can lead to issues like blisters and the formation of painful corns, calluses and ingrown toenails.

Tips for avoiding problems caused by wearing shoes without socks

According to Emma Stevenson, College of Podiatry

  • Spray feet with underarm antiperspirant prior to putting your shoes on
  • Don’t wear the same shoes everyday
  • Give shoes 48 hours to dry off
  • Use dry tea bags to absorb excess moisture in shoes
  • Wash and dry feet correctly after going sockless
  • Don’t do it if your shoes begin to give you pain

“Another of the biggest issues is also the new trend for narrow, pointed men’s shoes, and slip-on shoes. Going sockless is common with both of these styles,” she said.

“Pointy shoes are not shaped appropriately for the foot, resulting in ill-fitting shoes. This in turn causes friction over bony prominences in the feet such as the toes and heels.

“In addition to increasing the risk of ingrown toenails, other bony defect issues such as bunions can be exacerbated by pointy shoes. Likewise, slip-on shoes cause the toes to claw in order to keep the shoe on the foot and can also result in increased friction on the back of the foot where the foot slips in and out of the shoe.”

Source: Telegraph | Not Affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide

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