We all know it’s crucial to wash our armpits and nether regions when we bathe — of this there is no doubt. We’re well-versed in the importance of hand-washing, and if you’ve ever been a greasy, hormonal teenager, you know why your face and hair need to be cleaned regularly. But the internet has had paroxysms of outrage at the question of washing a certain, oft-overlooked body part: our feet.
“Wow lol yall are some dirty mfs,” said one. “You sit on the side of the tub and scrub those bastards hard with soap and brush. No excuse,” said another. “Your feet are the closest thing to the nasty arse ground. Especially in warm months. Wash them,” offered a third.
But some argue that all suds end up at our feet eventually, getting them clean, so why do they need to be scrubbed? Also, soapy feet are slippery feet, and more likely to take us down. So, what’s the big deal about washing them?
The case for washing your feet
On their website, the Institute for Preventive Foot Health emphasises the importance of thorough, daily foot-washing with mild soap (including between the toes), pointing out something easily taken for granted: Our feet are “the foundation of our mobility.”
Proper washing is an integral part of keeping funky smells at bay. According to infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., “Your feet are covered with bacteria, just like the rest of your skin.” Those bacteria, when mixed with sweat, cause foot odor. (It’s worth noting we have 250,000 sweat glands on our feet so…yeah. That’s a lot of potential stink.)
Then, there is the matter of exfoliation. (Yes, those sometimes hairy, often knobby-knuckled pads need exfoliation, too — that is, if we don’t want them to develop calluses.) Sloughing off the dead skin regularly helps prevent rough patches from forming from rubbing against our shoes.
Intentional scrubbing of the tops, sides and bottoms of your feet can also help ward against infections such as staph (that may enter through a small cut), plantar warts, and athlete’s foot. Will you definitely contract these foot ailments if you don’t wash your feet? No. But, according to Podiatry Specialist Dr. Robert K. Lee, “The more regularly you’re washing your feet, the less likely that viruses, fungus, and bacteria are going to infect your skin.”
Drying them is equally important
Since plantar warts and athlete’s foot thrive in warm, damp environments, it’s also essential to remove moisture after washing your peds. Dry them thoroughly (again, remembering between the toes) to safeguard against fungal growth.
The bottom line
It is possible to exist decades on this Earth, not wash your dogs every shower and be perfectly fine? Yes. But knowing all the benefits, should you? Also yes.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.
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