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.

  • 8
    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, 2014 at 15:32
  • 2
    This should be asked on Skeptics.SE. You'll get more scientific answers.
    – user3143
    May 21, 2014 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 them..so 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, 2015 at 11:33
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    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.
    – user23480
    Jun 16, 2016 at 5:26
  • You should be more concerned about foot fungus and bacteria than a virus. Foot fungus and bacteria are very common, exacerbated by going barefoot, whereas I have never heard of someone catching a virus due to being barefoot without breaking the skin. Kids are also less concerned about putting their feet/hands in their mouth, which I want to say has its own disease name.
    – user24631
    Jan 14, 2017 at 7:41

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 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, 2014 at 18:51
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    @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, 2014 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.


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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