#622 Foot Fungus Pro Tip: Wear old socks to the airport - DOC

#622 Foot Fungus Pro Tip: Wear old socks to the airport

Want a foot fungus pro tip? Well, I’m going to give you one. Wear old socks to the airport, and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run podcast.



I was just speaking at a medical conference in Las Vegas, and of course I flew on a plane there. Well, I’m not rich, so I don’t have a private plane and I have to go through security and put all my stuff in the little bins and then stand in the scanner with my hands up and like you, I probably don’t like standing on those yellow spots because I think it’s a little gross. 

Now I probably think it’s a little grosser than you do because I’m a podiatrist, and when I go through the airport I notice feet, particularly those covered in nasty foot fungus. I see people with fungal toenails, with athlete’s foot where their skin’s peeling, and I know what’s happening. When that skin is peeling they are shedding fungal filaments and fungal spores everywhere they step.

So what happens? You go to the airport, you’re in a rush. You’re all nervous and sweaty anyway, so your socks are probably a little sweaty and then you have all these people in front of you who take off their shoes. They’re barefoot, they’ve got athlete’s foot, they’re shedding skin cells and fungal filaments and spores all over the place everywhere they step and then what?

They tell you, “Sir, step in the scanner. Put your feet on the yellow spots. Hold your hands up.” In fact, one time when I was in the airport I put my feet just off to the side of those yellow spots because I didn’t want to stand exactly where everybody else was standing all day and the guy said, “Sir, you need to stand on the yellow spots.” I was like, “Man, I’d rather have a cavity search.” and he said, “Sir, I’ll be happy to arrange that for you if you don’t stand on those yellow spots.”

Well, I stood on the yellow spots, and that was the last time I did that. So what I do now is I do something that actually is not really complicated, but I think really reduced my risk of picking up those fungal filaments and spores and getting them in my shoes. On the last trip I was on I actually bought some new running shoes at a running shoe store and the last thing I would ever do is wear my brand new running shoes through the airport. 

Why? Because think about that. You have new shoes, you know they’re clean. You take them off, you put them in the bin and they go through the scanner, and you walk through the scanner and stand on those yellow spots and your socks, which are a little bit sweaty, actually pick up the fungal filaments and fungal spores and the skin cells that are shed from those people with those gross feet right in front of you.

Then what do you do? You put on your new shoes and you have just germinated your brand new shoes with seeds for fungus and live active fungus in somebody else’s skin cells and when you put it that way, it sounds kind of gross. So I don’t want to do that. So what do I do? Well, I go through my sock drawer before I go on a trip, and on my way through the airport I wear socks that I don’t want anymore. Maybe you’ve got some of those as well. Maybe the elastic is a little worn out. 

They don’t stay up as well as they used to. Maybe they’ve got a little hole here or a little tiny rip there, or maybe your mother-in-law gave them to you and they’re just playing ugly. But you have some socks in your drawer that you probably don’t wear and rather than just throw them out, make sure you throw them out at the airport.

So here’s what I do. I put on some old socks, I wear those to the airport. I have some brand new socks that are clean in my backpack and when I go through the scanner I put my backpack in there, take out my shoes, go through, and when they come out the other side I walk over to the bench. I take my backpack, I sit down, I pull off the old socks, I put on the clean socks, and then I put on my shoes. That way I’m not picking up fungus and putting it in my shoes after I walk through the airport. 

I literally take those old socks and I throw them in the trash can at security. Now they’re socks I was going to get rid of anyway so rather than let them go to waste I actually use them every time I fly, and I just discard my old socks when I go through the airport. You have to remember that Athletes Foot is really, really common, particularly in athletes like runners and the athlete’s foot, the stuff that you see, the peeling skin on people’s feet that you will see in line if you look for it, well, that stuff is going to get picked up and put in your shoes if you’re wearing socks and you pick it up in the scanner. 

You do not want to get athlete’s foot primarily because it’s going to cause athlete’s foot, but even worse, it’s going to cause dreaded toenail fungus that’s hard to treat and makes your nails thick, crumbly, cracking, peeling, and they actually, as they get thicker, it’s easier to beat them up in your running shoes and you’re more likely to get sore toenails or actually blisters under the nail once you get those toenail fungal infections that lead to them becoming thicker.

The last thing that you want to do is pick up that stuff and put it in your shoes. So take some of those old socks, put them on your way to the airport, have some clean socks in your backpack, and put them on as soon as you go through security so that you don’t get fungus in your shoes. 

Now that’s the pro tip, so keep the fungus out of your shoes. If you liked this episode, share it, like it, subscribe, and I’ll see you in the next training.