052708barefootpark.jpgJust in time for summer, the Times has brought the fear to the park, where an army of infectious organisms await anyone reckless enough to let the grass touch their bare feet. According to a number of very uptight dermatologists, taking off your shoes in the park is pretty much akin to soaking them in a bucket of bacteria.

Dermatologist Judith Hellman gave the paper ten good reasons why Richard Gere should have used a stunt double for his barefoot park scene in Pretty Woman. The risks include fire ants, bromhidrosi infection (“stinky feet”), and the tendency for plantar warts and athlete’s foot to spread from one bare foot to the next, via grass.

Moist grass is the biggest danger because bacteria thrives in water and strolling barefoot through it when wet can damage the skin’s natural barrier, allowing infectious organisms to sink in or take up residency in your shoes. Dermatologist Giuseppe Militello advises thoroughly drying your feet after walking on grass. Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe, on the other hand, seems to think these eggheads are overreacting: “Doctors are going to be cautious; that’s the nature of doctors.” He’s always allowed his children to go barefoot in the park, and they’re doing fine… so far.

Photo courtesy Urch.