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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
This should be asked on Skeptics.SE. You'll get more scientific answers. – user3143 May 21 '14 at 1:55
Being a mom I experienced that when kids start walking ..when u are home let them walk on bare foot and eating time too its comfortable for when there are going outside put on shoes ..when there are seeping on day time put on sock its warm.. when on night time I clean the feet . let the the feet be free ... I know being a parent we have lots of question..and worries becoz we love our kids.. I go on natural and scientific ways .. – user19143 Sep 24 '15 at 11:33
My spouse is from Mexico where it is firmly believed that any bare foot contact with a cool or cold floor will result in an immediate illness and progress to cold like symptoms by the end of the day. This is so ingrained into her that she will sit on the bottom step in our home waiting for me to return her "flippies" to her so she can go about her day. Her father refuses to add ice to any drink he has, Soda-juice-tea- etc, nor will he drink cold water from the fridge as he believes he will get sick from either. Cultural myths are very hard to break. – Craig Molling Jun 16 at 5:26
up vote 10 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

I'm always barefoot. I get home and want to relax, not keep constricting myself. I've never gotten sick from being barefoot. I've always gotten sick from those same people who tell me to wear shoes and catch colds from viruses and bacteria and somehow pass it on to me. Then they claim that I got sick from being barefoot. If anything, being barefoot has made my immune system stronger. My colds are always short and not as bothersome as it is to others.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Interesting theories. Can you provide any research to support your anecdotal experience? I'd love to learn more about how this works. – Erica Feb 18 at 23:14

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