For many women, sensible, comfortable flats are a wardrobe staple.
Despite the shoes’ popularity, however, some experts have a warning. They say some types of flats can lead to a host of potential health problems, including toe infection, that could even require surgery.
The damage is caused when tight, pointy-toed flats put pressure on toenails, causing them to bend and become ingrown. In some cases, if the situation is left untreated it could lead to bone infection.
It happened to Hannah Butler, 17. The Illinois teen had to resort to surgery to remove an ingrown toenail caused by repeated use of the wrong flats.
“I brought my shoes in to my doctor … he figured that that was causing the multiple ingrown toenails,” she said.
Experts say the problem happens because most women are unaware of what some flats are really doing to their feet.
“It's funny because so many women think they're better off wearing flats than heels but in reality … flats can be worse than heels 100 times over,” Dr. Marlene Reid, a podiatrist and spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, said.
But you don’t have to get rid of flats altogether from your wardrobe. Experts say you should wear flats with rounded or squared-shapes toes. It gives toes wiggle room and alleviates pressure on the big toe.
Reid said there are many different styles of flat shoes available.
“Flats come in all different styles, all different types, all different construction,” Reid said. “There are flats that are more flimsy than what we consider regular flats.”
“You have to look at the shoe itself to determine if it's the right shoe for you,” she said.