Barefoot Passengers in Disgusting Airports

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I was returning
this morning from Ft. Lauderdale and going through security with
a few hundred other sun-kissed travelers when it hit me that most
people were actually BAREFOOT going through the security line. I
had my trusty socks on, but the majority of people were barefoot
on carpeting that probably saw at least several thousand stinky
sweaty feet a day. Disgusting! Don’t people realize that walking
barefoot in an airport even for a short period of time puts their
health at risk? I guess not.

Let’s talk
about this. You would never walk barefoot in an airport bathroom,
right? No. That would be completely gross to most Americans. Yet,
the bathroom floor probably is cleaner than the carpeting in the
security line. The bathroom floor gets cleaned several times a day
with disinfectant. The carpeting in security might get vacuumed
once or twice a day, but most likely gets actually cleaned very
sporadically and only when something gets spilled. I can’t confirm
this because the TSA agent working the security line had no idea
when or even if the carpeting was ever cleaned!

What’s at risk?
Let’s make the assumption that you are a very healthy person with
no chronic diseases that would hamper your immune system. What could
you possibly pick up from a dirty carpet? Let’s just talk about
the really common things because the list could actually be quite

  1. Warts.
    Plantar warts (verruca vulgaris) are caused by a virus that infects
    the skin. This virus is very hardy and if you have children (or
    ever were one) you probably have seen or had a wart somewhere.
    They are annoying, but probably won’t kill you.
  2. Herpes.
    Yes, the herpes virus is also quite hardy and cutaneous herpes
    can be passed from individual to individual but certainly not
    as quickly or easily as the wart virus. Again, annoying but not
  3. Fungus.
    You know well the athlete’s foot fungus from your childhood. Hasn’t
    everyone’s mother warned them not to take a shower in the locker
    room barefoot so they won’t catch foot fungus? Same idea…..but
    again, annoying but easily remedied. PS. Fungus in your toenails
    can take up to A YEAR to eradicate! (Yes, it’s the same fungus).
  4. Staph.
    Our friend the staph bacteria is growing stronger and infecting
    more people every day. If you have any doubt on how nasty this
    bacteria can be you should read my article on "Deadly Pedicures".
    Staph can kill you and only needs a small opening in the skin
    to give you a major infection. MRSA (the really nasty staph) is
    more common than every before.

But you say
you don’t have any cuts or holes in your feet so it’s probably OK
for you to boldly walk through security at the airport barefoot.
Think again! Let’s take a look at your feet. Any dry skin? Tiny
little blisters? Maybe a rub mark from a sandal or a tight shoe?
A minor ingrown toenail? These can provide openings for all our
little microscopic friends that want to join us on our airplane
journey. And let’s not forget. You are BAREFOOT! You could easily
step on something, drop a piece of luggage on your foot or stub
your toe on a bag and provide an easy opening…hello puncture wound!

So the next
time you are traveling by air, either wear or bring a pair of socks.
If you forget them, many airports will provide you with little booties
to place on your feet to go through security. Your mother always
told you not to go barefoot in a locker room. Common sense keeps
you from going barefoot in a public bathroom. So why go barefoot
through security? You may actually be saving your life with a pair
of socks! Bring an extra pair and save a friend!

Dr Marybeth
Crane is a board certified podiatric foot and ankle surgeon specializing
in sports medicine. Your feet should last a lifetime! For more foot
health tips, a copy of her FREE BOOK and doctor-approved foot care
products, visit her website or read her blog. Your body will thank
you for it!

with permission from

27, 2010

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