My (Asian) parents keep on telling me to take my socks off whenever it's summer because they think that the feet need "fresh air" and that they need to breathe and that keeping them in socks all the time prevents them from breathing. They also think that wearing socks can contribute to foot fungus when it's warm. And they say that the "damage" will just "accumulate" over time, whatever "damage" that wearing socks most of the time actually causes...

They also tell me to at least take my socks off when I sleep.

I'm somewhat more sensitive to cold than most people, so at any given temperature I generally dress in more layers than most people. I also live in Seattle so it almost never gets to temperatures warm enough for me to take my socks off. Frankly, it's a matter of personal preference, and they shouldn't interfere with it.

I'd like to finally convince them that what they say is pseudoscience, but frankly nothing I look for will convince them, unless someone can finally authoritatively address the question for once and for here.

  • 1
    Not sure if this makes the claim notable or not: Is wearing socks bad for your feet? on Yahoo answers May 17, 2012 at 3:33
  • Not notable, but still deserves to be here.
    – picakhu
    May 17, 2012 at 13:34
  • I think that you should work on the causes of having your feet cold, not so much on the consequences. Do you stay seated for a long time? don't you walk everyday? Or is your blood too thick? Maybe you should walk half an hour everyday in the morning and another half an hour in the afternoon. And maybe you should consider eating some food rich in omega 3 or even some natural pills of this substance.
    – Luis
    May 20, 2012 at 20:59
  • wearing socks all the time is a major cause for getting cold feet. Not only do they (unless very loose) restrict blood flow to the feet (bad) but your body gets used to the constant warmth and reacts when that is no longer applied.
    – jwenting
    May 21, 2012 at 9:02
  • 2
    I don't know if I believe either claim made by @jwenting or Luis. Blood too think? What does that even mean? Any citations for Omega 3s curing cold feet? Or that wearing socks restricts bloodflow to the feet and that is "bad"?
    – Sam I Am
    May 21, 2012 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Wearing socks can be bad for your feet if they become damp because they can keep that moisture surrounding your foot for prolonged periods, this is fairly common among soldiers. This pdf outlines various ailments caused by prolonged exposure to wet conditions at varying temperatures. It also links to two studies performed on soldiers.

A convincing controlled study along these lines was conducted by Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Laurence Irving, Chief, Physiology Section, Headquarters, Eglin Field, Fla. Sandals were issued to approximately 1,000 men, who were permitted to wear them on the post as much as they wished; most of them practically gave up wearing shoes. A similar number of men wore shoes as usual. Within a month, the proportion of severe dermatophytoses in men wearing sandals fell from 30 to 3 percent, while in the control group, the disease remained as troublesome as usual.

A similar study was conducted in New Guinea, while the 43d Infantry Division was in a rest area. Some 300 men with unclassified skin diseases, many of whom undoubtedly had dermatophytosis of the feet, were kept on the beach for 4 hours daily, without clothing or shoes. They bathed, exercised, or just lay in the sun as they wished. Within a month, the majority of infections had cleared without any other treatment.5(pp602–603)

emphasis mine.

Athletes foot is a more common problem for a civilian which is also caused by your feet being Damp.

All of these conditions can be avoided by properly caring for your feet and keeping them clean and dry, as both sources state. If you use clean socks, and wash your feet regularly and let them dry before putting on socks, its unlikely you will experience any problems, taking off your socks sometimes will allow your feet to dry naturally.

  • 1
    Is moisture the only problem? Are there blood-circulation-related issues for say, certain tight socks?
    – Saturn
    Nov 20, 2012 at 19:42
  • @Omega anything that blocks blood circulation can cause problems, that's not specific to socks.
    – jwenting
    Jul 19, 2013 at 5:48
  • 1
    This is about socks in shoes, which creates the damp conditions.
    – Pieter B
    Oct 30, 2013 at 12:06

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