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Why You Should Never Walk Barefoot Around the Pool

The Hidden Dangers Of Going Barefoot At The Pool This Summer


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What seems like a harmless and comfortable choice—going barefoot around the pool—can actually expose you to alarming risks that might turn your leisurely poolside escape into a distressing nightmare. Walking without shoes around resort, community, and private pools may seem natural, but it’s a practice fraught with health hazards.

Gabriel Miller, an expert at Gatsby Shoes, highlights the potential hazards of wandering around pool areas without proper footwear.

1. Exposure To Bacteria, Viruses, And Fungi

Pool decks can be breeding grounds for bacteria, viruses, and fungi due to the warm, moist environment. ‘Walking barefoot exposes you to pathogens like plantar warts, athlete’s foot, and ringworm, which thrive in these conditions,” says Miller. “These organisms can easily invade 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. They are painful and can be quite persistent, often requiring professional treatment.
  • Athlete’s Foot: This fungal infection leads to itching, redness, and cracking skin, particularly between the toes. It’s highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • Ringworm: Despite its name, ringworm is a fungal infection characterized by ring-shaped, red, itchy patches on the skin. It can easily be contracted from pool decks and other communal areas where fungus may live.

2. Slipping Hazards on Wet Surfaces

Slippery pool decks are notorious for causing falls, which can lead to bruises, sprains, or even fractures. “Wet surfaces around pools are extremely slick, and going barefoot increases the risk of losing your balance and suffering a fall,” says Miller.

3. Cuts And Scrapes

Rough textures or broken tiles can cause significant damage to bare feet. “Unexpected sharp edges on pool decks can easily cut skin, making you more susceptible to infections in a high-bacteria environment,” says Miller.

Here, Miller offers a few tips for selecting footwear for the pool:

Have Designated Pool Shoes

“I strongly advise against wearing the same shoes in the pool area as you do elsewhere,” says Miller. “Shoes that have been worn on the pool deck should be considered contaminated. If you wear them in other areas, you risk spreading pathogens.”

Shoe Styles and Materials To Avoid

Avoid shoes made of cloth or mesh when around the pool, as these materials absorb contaminants and stay damp longer, fostering microbial growth. Opt for materials that do not retain moisture and are easy to clean.

Safe Footwear Choices

For safe and hygienic pool visits, wear water shoes or flip-flops made of rubber or another waterproof material. “Choose shoes that provide a good grip, are easy to clean, and dry quickly to reduce the risk of slips and microbial growth,” says Miller.

How To Clean and Sanitize Pool Shoes

Proper maintenance of pool shoes is crucial for preventing infections. Thoroughly clean and sanitize your pool shoes after each use. Scrubbing them with soap and water and letting them dry completely before the next use is essential to kill any pathogens.

“Protecting your feet in the pool area is crucial for your health,” says Miller. “Don’t overlook the importance of wearing appropriate shoes to safeguard against infections and injuries.”

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.