Letter: Bare feet pose no threat

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The recent letter “Be Considerate and Wear a Pair of Sandals in Public” [Feb. 27, Xpress] is based on a faulty premise. The writer makes the erroneous assumption that all feet are afflicted with “certain diseases and fungal infections.” This is made clear by the suggestion that “wearing shoes likely limits the spread,” but that not wearing shoes could cause these “foot-borne infections” to spike and spread like “the flu.”

Hands are anatomically similar to feet in many ways. Why don’t hands routinely get fungal infections, smell bad or suffer other problems that feet often do? They indeed would if they were constantly enclosed in the same kind of hot, dark and moist environment as shoes provide, in a virtual petri dish as the skin sweats and dead skin cells are sloughed off, encouraging bacteria and fungi growth. Bare hands are just like bare feet in that respect. Being exposed to dry, fresh air and light keeps them healthy and free of fungal and similar infections.

This isn’t rocket science. This is basic biology that most people learn in high school. Fungus infections almost never grow and thrive on skin exposed to dry, fresh air and light. People who never wear shoes do not have any these “foot-borne infections” that the letter writer is so worried about spreading around.

The American Academy of Dermatology, in an article on athlete’s foot in its publication Dermatology Insights (Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 2002), stated:
“Athlete’s foot does not occur among people who traditionally go barefoot. It’s moisture, sweating and lack of proper ventilation of the feet that present the perfect setting for the fungus of athlete’s foot to grow.”

The feet of anyone choosing to be barefoot are no threat whatsoever to anyone around them. In fact, those feet are likely much cleaner and germ-free than the shoes or the shoe-enclosed feet of others around them.

— Kriss Sands
Mars Hill

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14 thoughts on “Letter: Bare feet pose no threat

  1. Jim Glaze

    I was a student in Montgomery, AL when the school system made a very unpopular decision – that all students would be required to wear shoes. Why did they pass this rule? There were some students who lived on farms and fed pigs while barefoot, and when they came to school barefoot they were spreading hookworm to other barefoot students. “Hookworm infection is transmitted primarily by walking barefoot on contaminated soil… People living in areas with warm and moist climates and where sanitation and hygiene are poor are at risk for hookworm infection if they walk barefoot or in other ways allow their skin to have direct contact with contaminated soil. Soil is contaminated by an infected person defecating outside…” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Readers might be not aware of the “urban camper” population in Asheville, but it exists, and the campers are not always able to bury their waste.

    • Kriss

      “[W]hen they came to school barefoot they were spreading hookworm to other barefoot students.”

      It’s hard to believe that was the real reason the Montgomery school system would have instituted such a rule. If it was, that would have been based on abject ignorance. Your quotes from the CDC prove that.

      Hookworm infection can only be contracted from contaminated feces lying on the ground – that is, containing live hookworm larvae.

      I recently wrote an article on that topic. https://borntolivebarefoot.org/bare-feet-are-unlikely-to-get-a-hookworm-infection/

      As to “urban campers,” not always burying their waste does not create hookworms. Someone must already be infected with hookworms first for the cycle to begin. I doubt we have a hookworm problem in Asheville or any other place in this country.

      • Jim Glaze

        “… that would have been based on abject ignorance.” Do you think the pigs were burying their excrement – or going to the pig bathroom? Just who is abjectly ignorant?

        “I doubt we have a hookworm problem in Asheville or any other place in this country.” I wasn’t aware that the CDC concerned themselves with nonexistent dangers.

        It is regrettable you did not do more research before wring your article – and that you apparently did not let an ignorance of family pig farming practices from 50 years ago prevent you from making a nonsensical comment.

        • Kriss

          Humans do not get hookworms from pigs. They get hookworms from other humans who themselves may be infected.

          Maybe you need to actually read from the articles you quoted. Also do some research on zoological hookworm.

          • Jim Glaze

            Asheville seems infected with some people unable to comprehend what they supposedly have read: “There are many different species of hookworms, some are human parasites and some are animal parasites. People can be infected by larvae of animal hookworms, usually dog and cat hookworms.” Once again, that is a quote from the CDC. How can you state,”Humans do not get hookworms from pigs,” when that directly contradicts the CDC? Please note that it states, “…usually dog and cat hookworms.” It specifically says “animal hookworms.” Nowhere does it rule out pigs. Believe it or not (no one can force you), but pigs are animals. So, people in Asheville can be infected by human feces containing hookworms (as described by the CDC) and by animal feces (in particular, but not limited to cats and dogs (and as students in Montgomery, AL were by pigs), as stated by the CDC. You want us to believe that you have done research and have comprehended that research, ” …do some research on zoological hookworm,” – why do you persist in defending your ignorance with dishonesty – or are you truly incapable of comprehension? BTW – What are your doubts (“I doubt we have a hookworm problem in Asheville or any other place in this country”) worth compared to the CDC’s concerns? Answer for me, anyway – absolutely nothing. I don’t have an article and position to defend , just an interest in honest information as opposed to your dishonest information (or should that be “alternative facts?).

          • Jim Glaze

            I was interrupted while editing my previous comment by a need to deal with “brown water” situation. Here is the edited comment:

            Asheville seems infected with some people unable to comprehend what they supposedly have read: “There are many different species of hookworms, some are human parasites and some are animal parasites. People can be infected by larvae of animal hookworms, usually dog and cat hookworms.” Once again, that is a quote from the CDC. How can you state,”Humans do not get hookworms from pigs,” when that directly contradicts the CDC? Please note that it states, “…usually dog and cat hookworms.” It specifically says “animal hookworms.” Nowhere does it rule out pigs. Believe it or not (no one can force you), but pigs are animals. So, people in Asheville can be infected by human feces containing hookworms (as described by the CDC) and by animal feces (in particular, but not limited to cats and dogs (and as students in Montgomery, AL were by student bringing in hookworm larvae from their family farm’s pig stys, and then depositing the larvae on dirt playgrounds before school where other children would play barefoot), as stated by the CDC. You want us to believe that you have done research and have comprehended that research, ”…do some research on zoological hookworm,” – why do you persist in defending your ignorance with dishonesty – or are you truly incapable of comprehension? BTW – What are your doubts (“I doubt we have a hookworm problem in Asheville or any other place in this country”) worth compared to the CDC’s concerns? Answer for me, anyway – absolutely nothing. I don’t have an article and position to defend, just an interest in honest information as opposed to your dishonest information (or should that be “alternative facts?).

          • Kriss

            The only worm parasite that humans can contract from pigs is ascariasis, which is a roundworm, not a hookworm. And that parasite must be ingested to be infective. It cannot enter through the skin.

            I certainly cannot second-guess what the CDC had in mind when it made that statement using those words, because if the implication is that people can be infected by hookworms from ALL animals, it is inaccurate. If you can find any record or reference from the CDC or any other source of any human EVER being infected with hookworm from ANY animal, except a dog or cat, please point that out to me (and the other readers here).

            But try as you like, you won’t find anything in the record that verifies that ever happening to a human being. The fact is, humans cannot get a hookworm infection from animals, except dogs and cats – and there is no case on record that proves otherwise.

            And even hookworm from dogs or cats is not the same infection as human hookworm. It results in only a usually mild skin infection called cutaneous larva migrans – not the gastrointestinal infection that occurs with human hookworm infection.

            How many people in Asheville are you personally aware of that have contracted hookworm infection? Do you know even one person who has gotten it? That, I truly doubt.

    • SpareChange

      Give it up Jim. The barefoot Don Quixote has been at this for more than 10 years on these pages, and as near as I can tell he has never acknowledged that there is a single possible benefit to wearing shoes. You can concede that the wearing of shoes is more social convention than necessity, that the alleged health benefits cut both ways, or that you don’t care whether people go barefoot or not, and it will not be enough. Believe it or not, this is being pushed as a social justice and civil rights cause, and in line with Eric Hoffer’s. “True Believer,” there can be no nuance or compromise when it comes to the true believer’s notions of truth and justice. That the crusade involves a mostly inconsequential preference in attire does not diminish the fact that its advocates have turned barefootism into a political ideology. And if one dares to suggest that there are those who might want, even “need” shoes, but who may have trouble affording them, and you will be hit with a line of argument that encompasses everything from notions of false consciousness, to corporate conspiracy.

      • Jim Glaze

        Thanks the background and perspective. I might try to refrain from responding should the writer reply to my comment, but when confronted with dishonesty – it’s difficult :)

        • Kriss

          Where’s the “dishonesty,” Jim? Everything I have stated can be easily researched and verified. What you’ve stated cannot. Show me some reliable source that confirms pigs can spread hookworm to humans. You will not be able to. And show me a reliable source that shows anybody in the Asheville area has or has ever had a hookworm infection. You won’t be able to.

          Let’s face it. You are kind of out of your league here. You know little to nothing about this topic, and your continued rants about pigs and “dishonesty”continue to confirm that.

  2. Stan Hawkins

    Hmmm, North Korea, China, the Middle East, a broken immigration system, the despicable media, and yes – Buncombe is now a sanctuary community. Bare feet – beware, you are a national security threat and we must have a congressional investigation to determine if there is collusion between your toes.

    Hee Hee, Hee Haw.

  3. Jim Glaze

    Thanks the background and perspective. I might try to refrain from responding should the writer reply to my comment, but when confronted with dishonesty – it’s difficult :)

  4. Smart Feet

    It often seems as though people who are against others going barefoot grasp for reasons to justify their opinions about why other people should be wearing shoes.

    If it seems that the pro-barefoot letter writer is a “true believer,” that’s only because those of us who prefer going barefoot and frequently do so have been confronted with so many strawman (and in some cases, malicious) arguments over the years. Kriss has done his research to counter these arguments, obviously, and his logic holds up well.

    Now, there may be cases where I personally would *want* to wear shoes (while working in pig sty, for example), but in the vast majority of situations, I find myself much happier and more productive when I am not wearing shoes. Generally speaking, barefoot people are not a threat to others who go barefoot, nor to those who choose to wear shoes. Someone sneezing in public, for example, is more of a “threat.”

    So how about this: If you want to wear shoes, wear shoes. If you want to wear sandals, wear sandals. And if you want to go barefoot, go barefoot. I do believe there is ample room for peaceful coexistence here.

    • Kriss

      Very well said, Smart Feet. Thank you for your logical perspective on this topic. I completely agree.

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