Rx for Readers

I love going barefoot in the summer. I sometimes wonder whether this is dangerous behavior in terms of health. Is it?

foot 88 (photo credit: )
foot 88
(photo credit: )
I am a 30-year-old woman who was born in a kibbutz. Because of my origins, I love going barefoot in the summer - in the house, on the beach, at the pool and in the garden. I sometimes wonder whether this is dangerous behavior in terms of health. Is it? - S.B., Ramat Hasharon Judy Siegel-Itzkovich comments: The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons offers tips about going barefoot, especially in the summer: The best way to protect feet and toes from injury is to wear shoes. But if your summer just wouldn't be the same without the sand between your toes or walking in your garden barefoot, be very careful, as some who go barefoot will suffer injuries such as cuts and puncture wounds and even develop nasty infections that may require surgery. See a foot-and-ankle surgeon within 24 hours for a puncture wound. These injuries can embed unsterile foreign objects deep inside the foot. A puncture wound must be cleaned properly and monitored throughout the healing process. This will help to avoid complications, such as tissue and bone infections or damage to tendons and muscles in the foot. Make sure you've been vaccinated against tetanus. Experts recommend teens and adults get a booster shot every 10 years. Feet can get sunburnt too. Apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of your feet. Inspect your feet and your children's feet on a routine basis for skin problems such as warts, calluses, ingrown toenails and suspicious moles, spots or freckles. It's best to wear flip-flops or sandals around swimming pools, locker rooms and beaches to avoid cuts and abrasions from rough anti-slip surfaces and sharp objects hidden beneath sandy beaches, and to prevent contact with bacteria and viruses that can cause athlete's foot, plantar warts and other problems. If you have a lawn and mow it, never do it barefoot, as you can lose toes. Be careful when going without shoes at camping and other outdoor sites. Accidentally stepping on stray campfire coals or fireworks can cause harm. Murky bodies of water can conceal sharp objects underwater. Diabetics should never go barefoot, even indoors, because their nervous system may not "feel" an injury and their circulatory system will struggle to heal breaks in the skin. The result could lead to serious infections, necrosis and even amputation. I am a 52-year-old woman who loves wearing big heavy earrings. It has made the holes in the lobes larger than they should be. Is there any health danger from them? - R.D., Herzliya Dr. Richard Ha, a senior plastic surgeon at Baylor University Medical Center in Texas, comments: Heavy earrings are definitely in style, but they can also be a dangerous fashion accessory from which more and more women are seeking surgery. At first, patients with tears in their earlobes from wearing heavy earrings are told to simply stop wearing them so the lobe can heal on its own, but often that doesn't work. Just removing the earring often does not allow the hole to close because that has become a mature tract. Fortunately, there's a relatively simple solution to the problem - surgical repair. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour under local anesthesia in a plastic surgeon's clinic. After the rip in the lobe is fixed, it will need several weeks to completely heal. However, this surgery is expensive. If you love wearing heavy earrings - but don't want to end up needing surgery one day - you may want to consider using some of the over-the-counter earlobe support products to help prevent tears. Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to [email protected], giving your initials, age and residence.