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Travel + Fun

23rd Apr 2024

Why you and your kids should never go barefoot around the pool on holiday

Sophie Collins


What may seem like a carefree and comfortable pool choice, can actually pose significant risks

While strolling around the pool without shoes might feel natural, it’s a practice riddled with health hazards that every parent should be aware of.

Gabriel Miller, an expert at Gatsby Shoes, is highlighting some of the potential dangers of venturing around on holiday without proper footwear.

1. Exposure to Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi

Pool decks serve as breeding grounds for bacteria, viruses, and fungi, thriving in the warm, moist environment. 

Gabriel warns: “Walking barefoot exposes you to pathogens like plantar warts, athlete’s foot, and ringworm, which flourish in these conditions. 

“These organisms can easily infiltrate small cuts or abrasions on unprotected feet, leading to uncomfortable and sometimes serious infections.”

  • Plantar Warts: Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), these warts commonly develop on the soles of the feet, requiring professional treatment due to their persistence.
  • Athlete’s Foot: This contagious fungal infection causes itching, redness, and cracking skin, particularly between the toes, spreading through contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • Ringworm: Ringworm presents as ring-shaped, red, itchy patches on the skin, easily contracted from pool decks and communal areas housing fungi.

2. Slipping Hazards on Wet Surfaces

Slippery pool decks are notorious for causing falls, resulting in bruises, sprains, or fractures. 

Gabriel cautions: “Wet surfaces around pools are extremely slick, and going barefoot heightens the risk of losing balance and suffering a fall.”

3. Cuts and Scrapes from Pool Decks

Rough textures or broken tiles on pool decks can cause significant harm to bare feet. 

Gabriel advises: “Unexpected sharp edges can easily cut skin, rendering you more susceptible to infections in a high-bacteria environment.”

Gabriel’s advice

Avoid re-wearing shoes

Gabriel strongly discourages wearing shoes used on the pool deck elsewhere, as they could be contaminated. 

“Shoes worn on the pool deck should be considered tainted. Wearing them in other areas risks spreading pathogens,” he explains.

Materials to avoid

Steer clear of cloth or mesh shoes around the pool, as they retain contaminants and moisture, and can foster microbial growth. 

Gabriel suggests, “Opt for materials that resist moisture retention and are easy to clean.”

Safe choices

For safe and hygienic pool visits, Gabriel recommends water shoes or rubber flip-flops. 

“Choose shoes offering good grip, easy cleaning, and quick drying to minimize slip and microbial growth risks,” advises Gabriel.

Proper maintenance of pool shoes is vital for infection prevention. Gabriel recommends, “Thoroughly clean and sanitize your pool shoes after each use. 

“Scrubbing with soap and water, followed by complete drying, is essential to kill any pathogens.”

Gabriel stresses: “Protecting your family’s feet at the pool is paramount for their health. Don’t underestimate the importance of appropriate footwear to safeguard against infections and injuries.”