Going Barefoot Is A Question Of Where More Than When

From Tots to Teens

April 22, 1997|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Every year about this time I begin to wonder about the same thing. When is it safe for children to go outside barefoot? My mother used to say the last day of school.

Medical science may not help you much with this one!

When the ground is frozen, walking on it for extended periods of time can cause frostbite. That is bad.

Once the weather is past that point, however, bare feet are not much to worry about medically in temperate climates where earthborn human parasites are rare.

Cold feet can cause discomfort, but they can't cause pneumonia, ear infections or colds.

Since the leading health dangers from bare feet are puncture wounds and cuts, we worry more about "where" than about "when."

Given the fact that the last day of school often comes in May or June, your mother's rule seems reasonable, if not conservative. However, we realize that the rule you make for your own children on this issue probably will depend more on how much you care what the neighbors and grandma think than what we think!

Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

Pub Date: 4/22/97

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