Every one who is used to flying knows it is customary to slip of their shoes before going through security. But anyone who's ever been left barefoot on the cold airport floor has probably wondered: should I be wearing socks right now? The answer to that would be yes!
According to Fox News, just about every floor surface- at shopping centers, gyms, airports, and other public places- is coated in bacteria like E. coli and Staph as well as other harmful pathogens. If that bacteria seeps into your skin, you're at a high risk for infection.
Kathryn H. Jacobsen, a professor of epidemiology and global health at George Mason University told Fox that the risk of contracting a serious infection from going barefoot is pretty low. In part, that's because security lines are well-ventilated and have dry floors, so you're unlikely to pick up either foot fungi or warts- both of which tend to come from damp environments, like locker rooms and showers.
There are exceptions. Those with a weakened immune system (for example, if you suffer from diabetes-related foot problems) or with cuts on their feet could more easily have pathogens enter the body, Jacobsen says. It sounds scary but keeping your feet covered is mostly precautionary.
It's better to be safe than sorry!