Step Away From the 'Go Barefoot Everywhere' TikTok Trend, Experts Say

By   |  March 15, 2024

By Carole Tanzer Miller HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

FRIDAY, March 15, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Attention, America: ignore the "experts" on TikTok and put your shoes on.

Barefootin' is risky business, according to Dr. Sari Priesand, a foot specialist at Michigan Medicine-University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"Keep the shoes on," she urged in a university news release. "We're not Flintstones."

Fans of the barefoot lifestyle have revived the trend on the popular social media app in pursuit of likes and shares, posting videos in which they sport uncovered feet in public. Some even chop the soles off their shoes to skirt mandatory shoe rules in their favorite places. 

Walking barefoot is natural and good for the feet, they insist. 

No way, Priesand said. Shedding shoes puts your feet at risk in a number of ways.

You might step on a foreign object like glass, dirt or debris, cut yourself or wind up with scrape or blister that can get infected, she noted. Keep in mind that infections can thrive in places where lots of people are walking.

Athlete's foot or nail fungus is another hazard of going barefoot, Priesand said. It can make your feet itchy and tender. Sometimes, viruses can cause warts that are hard-to-treat — like plantar warts, which are often associated with human papilloma virus (HPV).

Priesand said conditions like these can be costly, requiring doctor visits, medications and, sometimes, surgeries to address. Even if treated successfully, they are likely to recur.

"On surfaces that are cleaned appropriately, it can be okay," Priesand said. "But anywhere you're barefoot, you are potentially exposed." Pools, gyms and hotels are among the most common spots to pick up a fungus.

Just keeping your feet clean isn't enough, she added. Splinters, which can become infected, may go unnoticed, especially if you don't have full feeling in your feet. And other injuries are possible from going barefoot.

"Having good foot hygiene is beneficial, but it's not going to necessarily protect you from all those things that can penetrate or hurt your feet," Priesand said.

Without shoes, feet are also unstable, she added.

"The reason we have a sole is to help support our foot," Priesand explained. "Removing that part is removing one of the most important parts of the shoe itself."

So, even if it feels more natural to go barefoot, it's better to find a pair of supportive shoes that fit properly, she said, and wear them.

More information

Find more about foot care at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

SOURCE: Michigan Medicine-University of Michigan, news release, March 12, 2024

What this Means for You

Be aware of the health risks of going barefoot.