We can all agree that the “no shoes” rule in airport security lines is, for lack of a better word, icky. There are plenty of bacteria in these places and going barefoot can put you at risk of warts, herpes, staph bacterial infections, athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.
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Your risk of contracting an infection is actually very low because airports generally keep these areas well-ventilated and the floors are very dry. There are exceptions and that’s what causes the worry, but most infections come from damp environments, like locker rooms and showers.
“You never know where people’s shoes have been. If someone who’s been on a farm walks through the airport, you’ll have fecal matter, too,” said Kathleen M. Stone from the US Podiatric Medical Association.
Those of you who have done it have undoubtedly wondered, “why am I not wearing socks for this?” If bacteria seeps into your skin, you’re at risk of an infection. If you have a weakened immune system, like diabetes-related foot problems, cuts on your feet could more easily provide a way for bacteria to enter your body.
If you forget to bring socks, you can use alcohol rub or antimicrobial wipes to clean your feet. Germaphobes may want to consider bringing some disposable booties and a mini bottle of hand sanitizer for your hands, to avoid what’s called fecal-oral transmission. Yep, it’s as gross as it sounds.