A little cut or abrasion on your foot can easily lead to an infection and an otherwise unnecessary medical situation if wearing sandals.
I bought a pair of sandals the other day in Xiamen. This is an island one tick north of the tropics. It’s warm here year round, there is beach in every direction. One thing that I think all humans despise equally is putting a sandy foot into a sock, shoe, or boot. Sandals are called sand-als, for a reason: they are the ideal footwear for sandy places.
As far as aesthetics go, it is my impression that it’s difficult to take a man seriously who’s wearing sandals. A sandal-clad tough or intimidating man is just not in the catalog of mental constructs of my culture, and flip-flopping around a city makes me feel slightly foolish. But just about everybody who’s not going to work wear sandals in Xiamen, and practicality takes precedence over aesthetics in 9 out of 10 cases.
Though I was onerously reminded of the practical negative aspects of sandal wearing a couple of days ago.
As my sandals were new I was just breaking them in, and the heel strap and the part at the front of my foot began wearing at my skin. They left little red blisters, but it was nothing to complain about: they burst almost immediately and only left little sores behind. I did not think at the time that it wa necessary to bandage them up.
Then I went for a walk and it began raining. I was in a low-lying part of the island and the water erupted out of the sewers and pooled up around six inches above the road surface. There was really nothing to do other than plow through it, the putrid water rising up over my ankles.
I got through it, remembered the open sores on my feet, and an onslaught of travel memories hit me: wearing sandals with cuts, abrasions, or blisters on your feet is an invitation for infection.
I’ve met or heard of many travelers who’ve ended up with huge medical problems just because they wore sandals with minor wounds on their feet. One guy in Australia ended up hospitalized for weeks with a staph infection because of it.
Your feet walk on the ground and the ground is full of bacteria and other crap that can cause infections. If you have an open sore it’s going to serve as a big glove to catch this bacteria, and it can sometimes lead to serious infections.
The last thing anybody wants when traveling is to end up in the hospital because they didn’t properly care for a little boo-boo. But it happens.
So I disinfected the blisters on my feet and hoped for the best. They flared up for the next couple of days but, luckily, did not get infected.
- Sandals are good for the beach, elsewhere not as much.
- If you have cuts or sores on your feet either bandage them up or don’t wear sandals.
- Even small wounds can lead to big infections.
- As a general rule, carry a small medical kit with you in the event that you need to disinfect or bandage a small wound on the go.