If you frequently travel to underdeveloped nations, you already know that there are extra measures you need to take to protect your health while visiting. It's likely that you avoid uncooked foods, boil your water before you drink it, and wear long sleeves and a face net to protect yourself from insect-born diseases such as Malaria. What about your feet, though? Is it ever okay to run around barefoot when visiting an underdeveloped country?
The answer is no; read on for 3 very good reasons why.
Jiggers are tiny sand-dwelling fleas that can be found in most tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Despite their small size, these little pests can wreak absolute havoc on your feet.
The cycle begins when a female jigger finds a bare foot and latches onto it. She then applies a numbing agent to the skin of the human foot and proceeds to burrow her way deep below the toenail. Once inside the skin, the female jigger will lay her egg sac. In about a month, all of the baby jiggers will mature and drop out of the foot via the hole left by their mother's invasion.
The health problems arise after all this happens. With her mission complete, the mother jigger just gives up and dies without even bothering to crawl out of her human host's foot first.
If lest to fester, the dead jigger can cause extreme infection characterized by inflammation and deep sores. The only way to rid the body of the foreign invader is to visit a podiatrist so that he or she may numb the foot and dig the jigger out with a surgical instrument.
Podoconiosis is a condition that affects people in locations where there is a high amount of volcanic soil on the ground. The condition is set into motion by the body's allergic reaction to the soil, so even though it's most prevalent in farming communities where exposure is high, anybody with an allergic response to the soil can contract the disease.
Podoconiosis begins with a mild swelling of the feet. The longer a person spends exposed to the soil, the worse their symptoms will become. Those with years of exposure find themselves with advanced elephantitis of the feet and lower legs.
While uncomfortable and devastating for those who can't escape the poisonous soil, podoconiosis is preventable with the use of shoes and proper foot hygiene. In fact, the condition used to be common in North America until the widespread wearing of shoes eradicated it. You probably won't get advanced podoconiosis in the little amount of time you spend abroad, but if you run around barefoot, you very may well find yourself with some mildly irritated feet.
The final reason why it's important to always wear shoes when visiting an underdeveloped country is the risk of Madura foot. This disease is triggered by any of over 20 different species of bacteria and fungi. These organisms are most commonly found in subtropical regions and enter the skin of the feet through exposed cuts or abrasions.
Madura foot creeps up silently, too. For months, a sufferer might notice nothing more than minor swelling and the occasional blister. Then, all at once, the symptoms get way worse; the foot swells to huge sizes and skin ulcers erupt all over it.
In severe cases, madura foot results in dangerous full-body infections, permanent deformity, or amputation of the foot.
If caught in the early stages, though, a podiatrist may be able to treat the foot with a strict, prolonged regime of antibiotics.
In some parts of the world, it's perfectly natural to spend your entire day barefoot, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea. If you visit an underdeveloped part of the world, no matter what the locals are doing, make sure that you wear shoes at all times and wash your feet daily. If you suspect you may have contracted a foot condition while on your travels, visit a podiatrist or a site like http://www.westmorelandfootdoctor.com right away to catch any problems in their early stages.
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