Listen, I’ll be honest with you. When I hop in the shower after waking up, sleepy-eyed and in desperate need of coffee, washing my feet isn’t usually near the top of my to-do list. I wash my hair and gradually work my way down, but I’d be lying if I said I made washing my feet a daily habit. Sometimes — especially after working out — I’ll do it, but every day? Eh, not so much. Apparently, that makes me part of the problem, as health experts are urging us to remember to wash our feet as part of our everyday hygiene routine.
As Health Digest reports, I’m not alone in my infrequent feet washing, and some doctors are beginning to notice. Foot experts say that paying attention to our feet while in the shower or tub is something that needs to happen more often. Sure, your soapy water runs all over them as you stand in the shower or take a dip in the bath, but real, actual feet cleaning is something that goes undone too often.
Your feet (and mine) are subject to a lot of abuse throughout the day. Walking takes its toll, even when your feet are wrapped in comfy socks and cushioned shoes. Blisters and sores are common, especially from ill-fitting footwear or from intense workouts. On top of that, your feet rarely get to breathe, and that makes them a huge target for infection, as bacteria thrive in the dark, damp, warm environment of your shoes.
Hopping in the shower and letting soapy water cascade across them will help, but only to a point. If you want to practice real foot care you need to dedicate some time to wash them off, top and bottom, before exiting the bathroom.
In an interview with Self, podiatrist Robert K. Lee of UCLA Medical Center explained why foot care can be so vital. “Bacteria [like] to feed on waste products that come out of your sweat glands, and they produce odor as they build up. The more regularly you’re washing your feet, the less likely that viruses, fungus, and bacteria are going to infect your skin,” he says. “The actual act of scrubbing or brushing (not just rinsing with water) helps to exfoliate your feet.”
Embracing this habit will ensure your feet have the best chance of avoiding things like staph infections, which can be incredibly painful, as well as athlete’s foot, which is often both painful and incredibly itchy.
Of course, washing your feet while standing up in the shower can be tricky. It’s not worth risking a fall, so if you want to wash your feet while mitigating the chances of toppling over, you can always wash them before or after your normal routine. If you’re comfortable with washing them while standing up, that’s fine, but make sure you can brace yourself if your balance drifts a bit.