Dire Warning: Kids Must Wear Socks to Try on Shoes!

A UK mother has everyone panicking over the health of their kids’ feet because her 4-year-old daughter, Sienna, developed a serious infection and nearly died after trying on shoes barefoot.  Her mother believes that trying on shoes without the protection of socks may have allowed the little girl to pick up a dangerous infection.

Jodie Thomas wrote on Facebook: “For all parents please put socks on you’re children while trying new shoes on. “I’m guilty not doing it for mine and myself, but this can be the outcome infection spreading throughout the body.” She posted several photos of her daughter in a hospital bed, with the pus-filled wound at the base of her pinky toe (click here for the pics if that’s your thing.) Bare feet in shoes is never a good idea!

A day after trying on shoes, Sienna was in terrible pain. At the doctor, she was diagnosed with a foot infection that had started to spread. The next day, Sienna had to go to the hospital because the infection was moving up her leg. She also had a fever.

Doctors diagnosed Sienna with sepsis, a potentially fatal complication that can occur when an infection enters the bloodstream. The hospital thankfully avoided surgery on Sienna by draining the pus from her leg and putting her on IV antibiotics, but her story is raising quite a panic: 

Could you really get a deadly infection from sharing shoes with strangers?

First, know that sepsis can be the result of an illness or of bacteria entering your body through an open wound (which is why diabetics must be extra cautious about wound care.) So, most likely, Sienna’s problems began with an open cut on her foot that allowed bacteria to sneak into her blood. BUT, it’s not 100% certain that the dangerous bacteria came from the new shoes: we all carry bacteria on our bodies, and usually, that’s ok. It’s on rare occasions like Sienna’s when problems develop.

 Of course, going barefoot exposes your feet to more bacteria than normal, and also puts you at greater risk of getting cuts and wounds. TO this end, it’s always a good idea to put a protective layer between your and your child’s feet and shoes—even if you don’t get sepsis, going bare foot in your kicks is never the best idea, as your skin gets sweaty, too, becoming more vulnerable to more common problems like blisters and foot fungi.

So, in a nutshell: do I think that sweet Sienna’s nightmare was caused by her shoe-shopping trip? Most likely not but, on the off chance it was, why ever take the risk! Just say yes to socks!

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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