Do you wash your feet when in the bath or shower?
There may be a few parts of our bodies that, because they’re immersed or stood in water when we take a shower/bath, we don’t actually give them any more attention nor apply any soap to them.
Though it requires some flexing and bending, we absolutely recommended making the effort to apply soap and wash your feet—because, otherwise, you’re at as much risk of bacteria collecting and spreading in-between your toes and cracks in your skin than if you didn’t shower or bathe at all. The act of simply standing in the shower doesn’t equate to washing your feet. Bacteria loves to gather and multiply in moist areas of our body; we should therefore take extra care of these areas.
Exfoliation is important, too, as it helps to rid the feet of dead skin cells and bacteria that could cause problems if left to thrive.
Not washing your feet regularly also affords them the opportunity to smell. Our noses are a long way from our feet, and we may not be able to detect the aroma they’re giving off—but other people may be more attuned to bad smells. Bacteria gorge on the waste expunged from your body through your sweat glands (some of which are in your feet); they can be one cause of smelly feet, as they give off an odour when feasting and breaking down your body’s waste chemicals. Consider using a pumice stone or rough-surface sponge to scrub away all the dead cells and invisible-to-the-naked-eye bodily waste from your feet.
Exfoliation also keeps the skin on your feet soft and smooth. It’s a common problem for dead skin to become effectively welded to you as the skin on your feet hardens. This tends to happen in the winter as we prevent our feet from breathing with thick socks and as we mix in centrally-heated rooms; the latter robs a lot of moisture from the air. When hardening occurs, the skin can be prone to cracking—and these cracks can prove painful in themselves. They also provide a route for bacteria to get into your bloodstream, which could result in an infection.
One such infection could arise from Staphylococcus bacteria. Though these invisible entities naturally park themselves on our skin without issue, if they do get inside our bodies, they could cause painful, weeping boils and blisters.
When you really think about it, our feet take a lot of hammer during the average day—more so if you’re a sports player and/or gym bunny. Unless sleeping, we’re on them and putting them to work for many hours at a time, and it’s no surprise that they sweat, smell and become dirty. Whilst standing in the shower covers them with water, this won’t clean them without you applying effort and lots of soapy suds.
In 2019 there was a huge Twitter debate on this subject, sparked by American news anchor Katie Alexander, who admitted that she didn’t wash her feet in the shower. That they were already stood in soapy water was one reason Alexander cited for this; the other was that she was worried about slipping in the shower if she coated her feet with even more suds (as long as they’re rinsed well after soap has been applied, this shouldn’t be an issue; alternatively, add a rubber non-slip mat to the bottom of your bath/shower). The argument rumbled on, with many Twitter users branding people like Alexander ‘gross’ for not thoroughly washing their feet every time they took a shower or bath, whilst the rest of the users on the social media platform saw nothing wrong with her washing regime.
Maybe the latter had simply been lucky not to suffer from an infection or odorous feet. As podiatrists, we strongly recommend washing your feet thoroughly whenever you wash the rest of your body—maybe even more often, if they’re particularly sweaty or it’s a very warm day.