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Should You Wear Shoes in a College Dorm and Dorm Shower?

The nasty bugs that exist on college dorm floors are often overlooked in the heat of the college preparation process.  Before you head off to college, please make sure to protect your feet from these common medical ailments.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD
5-minute read
Episode #221

Viruses

Most people have seen, heard of, or have experienced warts on the skin.  Well, they can also wreak havoc on the bottom of your feet.  A wart on the surface of the skin of your body is typically more easily treatable—your doctor can “freeze” it off with liquid nitrogen at the office, or you can even try the home “duck-tape” treatment.

Warts on the bottom of the foot, called “plantar warts,” are not as friendly. 

But the warts on the bottom of the foot, called “plantar warts,” are not as friendly. They are painful.  Destroying them is not as easy. This is due to two key reasons.

First, because the skin of the bottom of the feet is one of the thickest on our bodies, and these beasts go deep. Therefore they often require several visits to the doctor for repeated liquid nitrogen therapy in order to eradicate them. Another option is laser removal, performed by some dermatologists and podiatrists, but check with your health insurance to determine if this procedure is covered before rushing to the specialist.

And second, because our feet house numerous nerve endings, destroying the tissue there is not a picnic. It may be unpleasant but typically not intolerable.

Bacteria

I have to admit, fungi and viruses are by far more daily common ailments when compared to bacterial infections. But they too can invade your feet. All they require is an opening in the skin.  Sometimes they penetrate via the edges of the toenails and infect the skin surrounding the nail—this is called a “paronychia,” and is often treated with oral antibiotics.

They also can enter in any minute and sometimes non-visible opening through the skin or via a site of a recent bug bite, scratch, wound, or penetrating object. Tetanus is also a threat to the foot. This is a terrible bacteria that is known for causing a “lockjaw,” which is a painful stiffening and spasm of the muscles that begin in the jaw and neck and then spreads to the rest of the body. The classical description of the contraction is via “stepping on a nail,” but it can happen through any skin opening caused by anything. It can also effect the muscles that regulate breathing and can be fatal.

This is why colleges often require an up-to-date vaccination for the Tdap vaccine, which provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), as well as other nasty bacteria with potentially fatal repercussions.

Your feet are important. In fact, vital. Because we walk on them every single day. Imagine how limited your life would be if you couldn’t use even one foot. Therefore, do your feet a huge favor: wear shoes everywhere. And for the shower, get a couple of pairs of inexpensive water proof flip flops. And don’t leave home without them.

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.