Health & beauty

The Most Hazardous Part of Your Summer Wardrobe Will Shock You

Sure, they seem innocuous but these ubiquitous accessories wield a whole host of health risks...

Flip-flops (also called zōri, thongs, jandals, pluggers, go-aheads, slappies, slides, step-ins, chankla or a variety of other names throughout the world) are a type of open-toed sandal typically worn in casual situations, such as outside or at the beach. They consist of a flat sole held loosely on the foot by a Y-shaped strap that passes between the first and second toes and around either side of the foot.

This definition of the "everyone has a pair" rubber footwear, so named because of the sound it makes slapping the bottoms of your feet as you walk, comes courtesy of Wikipedia and is used here to help illustrate the ostensibly harmless nature of what's really nothing more than a shoe sole and a strap.

How then, could the cute, comfy flip-flop be considered downright treacherous?

While the reasons are manifold, for today's purposes here we'll focus on the three most off-putting hazards.

1. Wearing them injures your feet: According to a study out of Auburn University, the "scrunching" motion your toes do when walking in flip flops "stretches the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs from heel to toe, causing inflammation, pain along the sole, heel spurs and tired feet in general." Also, because the 5 and Dime specials offer very little in terms of foot support, tendonitis is a risk and long-term ankle and hip problems are pretty much a foregone conclusion if you wear them with any regularity.

2. They expose your feet to cancer-causing rays: Now, while this could be said of any open toed shoe (or even, duh, going barefoot), Dr. Rebecca Tung, director of the Division of Dermatology at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois tells Yahoo! Shine that, "Flip-flops leave the tops of the feet dangerously exposed to sun damage" and that "Skin cancer on the feet can be really dangerous because the spots are easier to miss, especially if they're between the toes."

The fix here? See if you can make this leap on your own. There ya go. Wear sunscreen on your tootsies. Crisis averted.

3. And, recently, the University of Miami recently randomly solicited flip-flop wearing passersby to see if they could test their shoes. They did discovered that they were coated with "bacteria from fecal matter, skin, microbes that cause yeast infections and diaper rash, and, even worse, the germ Staphylococcus aureus which can make you very sick or kill you."

Wait. I'm certainly no scientist but wouldn't ALL shoes fail this random testing? Probably, but the University maintains that the risk associated with flips is greater because they "frequently need to be adjusted for comfort so we touch them with our hands far more frequently than we do other shoes" and once that stuff gets on our hands ...

Bottom line? Wear your flip-flops, just alternate with other, close-toed, supportive shoes. Make sure to apply SPF to your entire foot (both of 'em) and wash your feet -- and hands -- when you get home from frolicking in your flops.

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