RENO, Nev. -- They are as common as swimsuits in the the summertime, but your favorite pair could be seriously damaging your feet. If you are one of those who favor the flip flop, doctors want you to know the dangers of wearing them too often.
You wear them outside of work, when you're running errands, or when you just don't feel like wearing shoes and socks. Some people say they wear them every day.
"You can slip them on and they're easy and they're comfortable," one teenager visiting from Kansas said.
People wear flip flops for looks, convenience and price; you can find them pretty much anywhere for a good deal, sometimes less than $5.
"They can be cute they can be easy and that's fine just don't over-do it," Dr. Joseph Knedgen, D.P.M, a podiatrist in Reno said.
Doctors say save the flip flops for the pool or the beach because, although they provide a little protection you wouldn't get being barefoot, they can do more harm than good.
"You'll find yourself grasping with your toes to keep the flip flops on, when you do that, you can be predisposed to hammertoe and bunions," Dr. Knedgen said.
According to a study done by the University of Miami, one pair can house up to 18,000 bacteria including the deadly Staphylococcus strain and those from fecal matter.
"You're exposed in the open, you don't have socks, you don't have shoes, you're not enclosed so that bacteria isn't going to cause you a problem, unless you have an open cut or sore," Dr. Knedgen said. "In moderation, fine, but you're going to be paying the price in the long run."
If you're going to buy flip flops, Dr. Knedgen says there are a few things you need to look for:
-Flip flops that don't bend easily. Look for ones with a thicker sole and a little bump in the middle to create arch support.
-Find a pair that fits properly without your toes or heals hanging off the end.
-Flips flops with a strap across the back or strong straps in the front to provide more support.
You should also replace your flip flops every season.