Barefoot on the Beach? Not!

Even the most diligent should keep their shoes on.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

Somebody's reading. I've covered the importance of wearing shoes indoors and outdoors these past two months. And I received questions. If one of you has a question, it is likely that someone else has the same question. I hope this answers a question you may have.

Q: I live in Miami Beach, and I have a home on the ocean. I go to the beach every day. I wear sneakers most of the time, but sometimes I go barefoot and wade in the shallows chasing baitfish. My A1C is 6.1, and I've been off meds (diet and exercise) for a year. I always check my feet (and also between my toes) every day. Is there anything I should look out for? - RichieMB

A: Congratulations on your diabetes management. It's great that your A1C is 6.1%, you wear sneakers most of the time, and check your feet daily. Wearing sneakers most of the time is a step up from going barefoot at the beach, but it's still not enough protection. As you know, there can be broken shells and glass, nails, other sharp objects, or ocean debris, on the beach. Although sneakers give your feet protection from the heat of hot sand, it doesn't give you protection from these types of objects. And if you are barefoot, you also increase your risk of getting bitten or stung by a fish or insect.

Checking your feet daily, as you do, will help you identify a problem in a timely manner. But, you really don't want to wait to identify a problem; you want to prevent one. Although you have an excellent A1C, this doesn't mean you don't have diabetes, it means you are managing your diabetes and you are still at high risk for foot problems that can result in amputations. If you do get a cut, a wound, or a bite, this stresses your body and can increase your blood glucose, which will then make it harder for your "boo boo" to heal. It can even get infected, and then it can become a vicious cycle…diabetes, a wound, increasing blood glucose, increased chance for infection, decreased healing ability, back to even more elevated blood glucose levels, more chance for infection and decreased healing ability, on and on it can go…

So, my advice to you is to always wear shoes when on the beach.

Wear shoes that: 

  • Fit. Not too tight and not to loose. If too tight, you can develop calluses and other problems. If too loose, the constant friction of your shoes moving up and down on an area of your foot can cause a blister(s), then maybe a sore.
  • Protect your feet. Choose and wear shoes with a sole strong and thick enough that a nail won't go through it, and with enough protection that if something or someone steps or falls on your toes, they'll be protected, and a closed heel so "things" can't sneak in your shoes.

And, don't forget to EnJOY! your time at the beach and healthy feet for the rest of your life!


Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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