Do I Really Need These Shower Shoes?

Are shower shoes a silly precaution, or a serious need? Health Contributor Samantha Beckwith investigates…

Samantha Beckwith, Contributor


You’ve heard it a thousand times from your mom and dad, your older siblings and cousins, the Orientation Leaders, and every website with a college packing list: shower shoes are a must. Most of us pack a pair of flip-flops or sandals for the shower to appease our parents, thinking that as soon as we’re on our own they’ll get lost in the abyss known as the closet until it’s time to pack up for the summer. I know, because that was my thought process too… that is, until I realized I’d be sharing two showers with twenty other girls on a daily basis.


For all freshmen moving into Avila, Assisi, Padua, Frederick (Freddie) and Siena Halls you’ll be sharing the showers with everyone of your gender on your floor. For those of you moving into Featherman Hall, you’ll be sharing the showers with everyone on your floor, in addition to the stragglers From other floors that are searching for an open shower. Now by sheer numbers, its gross to think about sharing a shower with that many people, especially when you personally don’t clean it. And despite the best efforts of the cleaning services, bacteria, fungi, and viruses thrive in the textured shower floors and in the tile of the bathroom where it is warm and moist.


The two most common health issues that you can pick up in the showers are Plantar Warts, or Verrucas, and Athlete’s Foot, or Tinea Pedis. Plantar Warts are actually localized infections caused by strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the same virus that can cause cervical, vaginal, or anal cancer and genital warts. Plantar Warts are contagious and can be spread through direct or indirect contact, meaning it can be contracted by sharing sandals with someone who has a Plantar Wart (indirect contact) or by touching someone’s wart (direct contact). These warts usually occur on pressure bearing areas of the feet, where your feet touch the floor, and have a flattened appearance.


If you do contract a Plantar Wart, you should keep the wart covered while in communal areas or swimming, keep your feet as dry as possible, change your socks daily, and do not share your towels, socks, or shoes with anyone. By doing so, you will help to stop the virus and to keep from passing the virus to others. Plantar Warts may disappear spontaneously, or may require treatment such as occlusion with duct tape, salicylic acid topical ointments, or cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen).


Athlete’s Foot is caused by a fungi called dermatophytes, which is also the fungi that causes Ring Worm. Like Plantar Warts, Athlete’s Foot can be transmitted through both direct and indirect contact. Symptoms of Athlete’s foot include itching of the feet, cracked, blistered, or peeling areas of skin, especially between the toes, redness and scaling of skin on the soles of the feet, and thickened and/or yellowed toe nails. To limit the spread of Athlete’s Foot, much like Plantar Warts, you should keep your feet covered while in communal areas, keep your feet as dry as possible, change your socks daily, and do not share your towels, socks, or shoes with anyone. Athlete’s foot requires weeks to months of treatment such as topical antifungal ointments or oral antifungals.


So are those shower shoes a must or a bust? They’re by far a MUST! Though neither of these health issues are life threatening or very serious, they both require some sort of treatment and can affect your ability to focus on school. It’s a win-win: they’re inexpensive, you’ll save yourself a trip to the doctor or Student Health Center, you won’t have to spend time worrying, and you won’t be the cause of an outbreak. Do yourself and your dorm-mates a favor and use some shower shoes.


DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of the health issues discussed in it. All material in this article is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. If you believe that you have one of the health issues discussed above and/or you believe you are suffering from another health issue please contact your Primary Care Physician or the Student Health Center at (207) 602-2358 (Biddeford Campus) or (207) 221-4242 (Portland Campus) to discuss your health issue and make an appointment for diagnosis and treatment. The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgment available to the authors, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.