Hi everyone, summer is just around the corner and you know what that means. After the typical restrictions of having to wear heavy socks and shoes we are all ready to kick off those shoes that seemed to be so confining and feel the soft grass and the squishy warm sand beneath our feet. We all know that when we go barefoot paying attention to where we walk is very important to help eliminate potential danger like rusty nails, grass thorns, hidden bees, and the typical hot pavements that cause burns and blisters. Going barefoot on a sandy beach has always been considered a normal thing to do, but there is always the danger of the sand being cluttered with shells or strewn with glass bottles. Summer time is the time we bare our feet, we learned this in childhood and it is embedded in great memories. Kicking off our shoes when summer comes is a rite of passage that signifies breaking those chains of confinement and setting our feet free.
Did you know there are many parasites that can enter the body from going shoeless? Some parasites enter through the soles of the feet when a person walks barefoot.
Hookworms is a type of soil-transmitted helminth, or intestinal parasite that is transmitted through contaminated soil which enters through a person’s feet. People typically contract hookworm by walking barefoot on soil that contains the larval that forms the worm. There are about 576-740 million people in the world are infected with hookworm according to the CDC. Hookworm lives in the small intestines and most people show no symptoms. Hookworm can have serious effects on people who are infected such as blood loss which leads to anemia and protein loss. You can treat hookworm infections with prescribed medication from your doctor.
Ringworm is not an actual worm, it is a fungal infection that develops on your skin and is characterized by a red circular rash where the inner part of the circle is clear. Ringworm can be spread to humans by contact with infected soil and can spread by touching objects or surfaces that an infected person or animal has made contact with. Ringworm can be treated with over the counter medication, but it is best to get an anti-fungal prescription from your doctor.
Tetanus is a life threatening bacterial disease that affects your nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of your jaw and neck muscles (commonly referred to lockjaw). There is a tetanus vaccine, but people that are not up to date with there vaccination remain at risk and once you contract it, there is no cure. The Mayo Clinic reports that once the tetanus bacteria enter your body, it can appear anytime from a few days to several weeks and the incubation period is seven to 10 days so it is important to see your doctor immediately if you get a deep and/or dirty wound. People can get tetanus by stepping on a dirty object such as nails or splinters that penetrate your foot or other part of your body.
Roundworms, or nematodes, are parasites that live in the intestines of people and can range from 1 millimeter to 1 meter in length. Ascariasis is the most common roundworm infection, affecting around 1 billion people worldwide. Eggs or larvae live in the soil where you transfer them to your mouth from touching your feet/hands that are carrying the eggs or larvae. Symptoms of roundworm include
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Blood in the stool
- Weight loss
- Presence of the worm in vomit or stool
There are different roundworm infections including Ascariasis, Guinea worm disease, Loiasis, Lymphatic filariasis, Pinworm, River blindness, Threadworm, Threadworm, Visceral larva migrans or VLM, and Whipworm. To diagnose roundworm infection, you have to know which worm is causing it. Then your doctor can prescribe medication to kill the parasite and sometimes surgery is required.
Most environments are riddled with fungi, parasites, and bacteria and even though going barefoot has some benefits, walking without shoes has many hidden dangers that can enter our bodies and negatively effect our immune system and overall health. Walking around barefoot is one of the most common portals of entry for parasites. There are a number of ways to avoid getting parasites-wash your hands before eating, and using the bathroom, wear shoes instead of going barefoot including at the beach, ensure your pets are dewormed, make sure your tetanus vaccine is up to date and remember that unprotected feet are susceptible to cuts, scrapes or other breaks in the skin which can lead to infections.
Thank you for visiting and if you have anything you would like to share please leave me a message or comment I would love to hear from you.
Sources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.hhs.gov/
Mayo Clinic Patient Health Information-Diseases & Conditions http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tetanus/home/ovc-20200456