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I've heard all my life that walking barefoot on a cold floor would make me (when I was a child) more susceptible to catching a cold and things like that.

My wife keeps saying that to our child.

Is there any evidence (scientific is better) that this is true or false?

Is this some sort of urban legend?

UPDATE (Apr 10th) - I am specifically interested in the correlation between getting a cold and stepping barefoot on a clean, cold floor.

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The flu is a virus. A cold floor is just a cold floor. Not sure there's a strong connection between the two. At most, you may end up with cold feet. –  DA01 Apr 10 '14 at 15:32
You edited the question and now clear about what exactly you want to know. It's always better to be clear from the very first time when asking. The answers before edit may then seem irrelevant as it's here. However I'll edit my answer later –  Maulik V Apr 11 '14 at 2:27
@maulik i don't think they're irrelevant now, but they made me realize I wasn't being clear. Of course I agree with you –  Leo Apr 11 '14 at 9:23
This should be asked on Skeptics.SE. You'll get more scientific answers. –  user3143 May 21 '14 at 1:55

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The reason being barefoot is linked to sickness is two things: people link being cold to getting a cold; and people see kids in developing countries and more rural locations in their own country barefoot and more often sick.

In the former case, while being VERY cold for a prolonged time can lead to weakening your immune system, but the reason we get colds in the winter is primarily the dry air, not being cold. In the latter case, it's the lack of nutrition and medical care that results in the sickness - not walking barefoot.

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thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I wonder if we could find some scientific evidence (maybe it's too obvious for the doctors...) because this is some sort of an old urban legend in my country –  Leo Apr 10 '14 at 18:51
@leo Not just dry air, but when the weather's cold, we shut the windows and crowd inside. Less fresh air, more breathing in what others have breathed or coughed or sneezed out. –  Marc Dec 25 '14 at 1:02

Walking barefoot is bad for a kid, really? Being a healthcare provider, I don't think so. But yes, you have to take care that your kid does not touch its foot so as to avoid infection spreading from there to any other site on its body.

Let me get you some good references. The first one is here.

Tracy Byrne, a podiatrist specializing in podopediatrics, explained in a recent Guardian article that walking barefoot helps children to build muscles and ligaments in their feet. It is also necessary for developing good posture, increasing strength, and improving children's awareness of the things around them.

A little precaution to be taken as mentioned here.

All things considered, it’s no wonder that you voted for barefoot walking as one of your top ten things to do before you’re 11 ¾.

a) Take a towel with you to clean your feet before you put your socks back on.
b) Did you know that there are 700 different types of soil in England and Wales alone? That’s a lot of different things to feel under your feet
c) Keep your eyes open for glass or other things that might poke you

Chiropractic health also recommends barefoot walking for kids.

Apart from the health benefits, there's something interesting about your kid's growth of feet as body part/organs. The research is here.

Research published in podiatry journal The Foot in 2007 suggests that structural and functional changes can result from the foot having to conform to the shape and constriction of a shoe, rather than being allowed to develop naturally. And the younger the foot, the greater the potential for damage.

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Short answer: No

Diseases like flu or cold are caused by viruses or bacteria, not walking barefoot. Disallowing shoes from being on the floor contributes to disease prevention. Our shoes track in everything that we stepped in while we were out and about (think of that dirty public restroom). Studies vary on barefoot benefits and drawbacks so you'll have to do some research in terms of that. I found no journal entries or books about being barefoot causing illness in my university's library.

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There may actually be some evidence that exposing feet to acute cold may cause some symptoms of illness. –  Beofett May 23 '14 at 15:14

These links say it best... http://dragonturtle-iwahrman.blogspot.com/2013/01/dont-walk-barefoot-on-cold-floor.html?m=1


According to Chinese medicine, the Kidney meridian runs right through the foot. Cold floors can eventually cause weakness in the kidney system (bones, low back, urinary system, emotion of fear) which supports the other systems in the body with its warmth (yang), e.g. Digestive system. The Ayurvedic traditional system also has the same understanding.

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I'd feel more comfortable with some scientific evidence, but thanks for researching this –  Leo Mar 13 at 20:19
Hi, Catherine, and welcome to Parenting.se! On all Stack Exchange sites, it is preferred if sources are personal experience or from more scholarly sites, e.g. journal articles or well-respected websites. References from blogs, etc. are not considered authoritative. That is likely the reason for the down-votes. If you could provide better sources for your position, which might well be true (or not), it would be a much better answer (and not likely to gather down-votes. Academic journals of eastern medicine (in English) are welcome as well. Thanks, and again, welcome! –  anongoodnurse Mar 13 at 23:37

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