Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Shoes: New Airport Health Hazard

Taking your shoes off at airport security checkpoints exposes your feet to fungus and injury.

Athlete's Foot and More

You may not want to think about what you just walked through. But Calis does. And one of the things he thinks about is fungus -- the highly contagious kind that causes the cracked and itchy foot infection we call athlete's foot.

"Athlete's foot infections must be rampant," he says. "The floor is often dirty where all those people walk through security. And it doesn't get any sun. I haven't taken any samples from these areas, but if we do I bet we'll find 101 different things."

Unpleasant things, agrees Kathleen M. Stone, DPM, trustee for the American Podiatric Medical Association and a private-practice podiatrist in Glendale, Ariz.

"I've been flying a lot -- and my experience all summer was that individual airports are still making you take off your shoes," Stone tells WebMD. "Probably the only way you can combat the fact you are walking on a filthy floor is to keep a pair of socks on."

Stone notes that late summer is a time when lots of people have foot fungi. She suspects that athlete's foot is rampant on airport floors, but she notes that it's hard to tell where a person actually got it. To date, there haven't been any studies.

"Athlete's foot is not the only issue," Calis says. "Think of all the things that fall off people's shoes. Also, there might be small tacks or sharp pebbles that could cut you -- and if you have an opening in the skin, that is asking for infection. Even a sock won't protect your foot. If you do step on a tack, then we're talking about having to get a tetanus shot, and possible staph or pseudomonas infections."

Not everybody who walks through an airport has been walking on air.

"You never know where people's shoes have been," Calis says. "If someone who's been on a farm walks through the airport, you'll have fecal matter, too."

And not everybody who takes off their shoes should do so.

"People with diabetic feet, some have a loss of protective feeling," Calis notes. "We podiatrists tell them never to walk around barefoot. They may step on something and not know it's there. That would be a great concern of mine if I were diabetic."

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror