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Ask 10 Ugg-loving women if they wear socks with their Ugg boots, and you'll hear 10 different answers. It's not just Ugg enthusiasts torn on the to-sock-or-not-to-sock controversy. The company that produces Uggs says it's fine to ditch the socks, but doctors condemn Uggs sans socks, claiming a potential health hazard. Learn the pros and cons of wearing Uggs socked or unsocked, and how to recognize the signs that your Uggs might be giving your feet problems.
The Ugg gurus specify on their main site and on every Ugg shoebox that you're not supposed to wear socks with the boots because they aren't -- and were never meant to be -- outdoor shoes. Uggs were originally designed and marketed as super-cozy laze-around-the-house slippers. They're not designed to be worn while walking around all day, while your feet work up a lather of sweat from being cocooned in all that sheepskin.
Most health professionals couldn't disagree more with the Ugg manufacturers about going sock-free in your Ugg boots. A mob of doctors -- including the chief of podiatry at the St. Francis Hospital, the director of surgery at NYC Footcare and the president of the New York State Podiatric Association -- argue that Uggs make your feet sweat and, because the shoes are made of non-breathable material, that sweat will stay on your feet if you don't have socks on to wick it away from your skin. When moisture meets heat, a little bit of bacteria can go a long way to giving you a nasty case of athlete's foot and all sorts of unpleasant fungal infections.
Preventing Foot Problems
You don't have to give up your Uggs to keep fungus off your feet, but you'll want to change how you wear them. Dr. Gregg Cohen of the Long Island College Hospital advises Ugg wearers to use foot powder and wear socks -- preferably acrylic ones, not cotton -- every time the Uggs are worn. Wear the boots every other day instead of 24/7 to let the dampness from foot sweat dry up. Kill even more bacteria by spraying the inside of each boot with Lysol weekly and allowing the shoes to air dry for at least 12 hours.
You've been wearing your Uggs without socks, and now your feet are feeling abnormally itchy. How do you know if it's an infection? In addition to persistent itching, look for scaly or red skin and cracks and blisters between and around your toes. If you suspect an infection has started, lay off the Uggs for a while and hit the pharmacy for medicated anti-fungal cream or ointment. Contact your doctor if a few days of treatment doesn't make a dent in your symptoms.