Vital Signs: Stay one step ahead of germs

By Anna Kellaher
Staff Writer

With the new school year comes the exciting world of dorm rooms and communal showers. You may think that you’ve unpacked and purchased everything you need, but there’s one essential thing you may have forgotten –– shower shoes. 

Whether you’re living in the Towers, Centennial Hall or Allen, Brewster and Ely Halls, you’ll be sharing a bathroom with dozens of strangers and all germs they harbor. Many bacteria and fungi thrive in environments that are moist and warm, like the floor of a shower.

Shower shoes help prevent fungal infections. (Flickr)

According to a study by Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, shower floors are the most contaminated surfaces in college dorms. Yup. Dirtier than the toilet.

Tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, is a common fungal infection, according to Simmons College. You can become infected by having contact with the fungus directly or from contact with skin cells from someone else who is already infected. In most cases, it will cause a red and itchy rash on your feet and can be treated with an antifungal cream. If left untreated, it can spread to other areas of the body.

In addition to fungi, shower floors host a wide array of bacteria. Any open lesions on your feet, even just a scrape, provide an entry for bacterial infection.

Some easy ways to keep your feet free from infection are to wash them thoroughly with soap and water, allow them to dry completely before putting on any socks or shoes and to wear a pair of waterproof shoes like flip flops to create a barrier between your feet and the floor while you shower, according to Everyday Health.

Before you head for the shower, be sure to invest in a pair of cheap flip flops to put your best foot forward this semester!