What Happens To Your Feet When You Stop Wearing Socks

Many people dread taking off their shoes around others for fear of an offensive odor wafting up from the floor — and if you're not wearing socks, the odor may be stronger than ever. While socks might not seem like a mandatory thing, the layer of fabric actually does help protect your tootsies — and feet are no fun when they're sore or the skin is damaged. So, while there are some occasions where going sockless is okay, ditching them altogether is not a good idea.

Socks largely serve as a protective barrier between your feet and your shoes, cushioning the pads of your feet (via Park View Health). Without them, the skin of your feet rubs against your shoes, possibly causing painful blisters. In fact, socks with double-layered fabric can help eliminate discomfort even more. That's because the two layers of fabric rub together as you move, eliminating any friction between your skin and shoe (via VeryWellFit). 

Not wearing socks ups your risk of athlete's foot

Socks also protect your feet by minimizing moisture from sweat. That's why, when you stop wearing socks, it's easier to develop fungal conditions like athlete's foot. And you are actually more likely to have stinky feet when you stop wearing socks, because there are so many sweat glands on your feet, around 125,000 on each foot (via Medical News Today). When your feet sweat, the bacteria that are growing in the damp, dark corners of your shoes actually begin to feed on the skin of your feet. The bacteria dining out on your skin cells is what's actually responsible for the odor that develops (via Cleveland.com). Melissa Peck Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, noted: "It's a real problem. The vast majority of people suffer from foot odor to some degree. Sweat itself doesn't smell. It's the bacteria, after digesting the sweat, that smells." And all of that sweating with no socks to absorb it causes the odor-triggering bacteria to spread more quickly (via Life Hack). 

The more moisture present, and the longer it remains both in your shoes and on your feet, the longer the bacteria or foot fungus can continue to grow. The material of the socks helps to remove moisture, as well as prevent any bacterial or fungal growth that might otherwise continue to spread even after you take your shoes off.