Stay away from monsoon illnesses by wearing these footwear

It's that time of the year when the skies burst open with copious rain, raging winds and stormy conditions. While most of us love the monsoon season, exposure to Mumbai rains bring about a set of health and hygiene concerns. Leptospirosis, caused by exposure to dirty rain water, is a hazard. In addition, fungal diseases such as Athlete's foot, atopic dermatitis (eczema) and feet mumps are common during this season
Dr Sunil Shah, general physician, explains: "Leptospirosis is an infectious bacterial disease commonly transmitted through the urine of animals (rats and mice). Humans become infected through contact with water or soil that contains urine from these infected animals. In the rains, the large amount of waterlogging makes the transmission of this disease easy. Additionally, high humidity and dampness brought on by the monsoon provides favourable conditions for fungi and bacteria to multiply, causing skin diseases."

To protect yourself from various health hazards, start with your feet since they are at greatest risk, bearing the brunt of contaminated water as you wade through to get to your destination. That's why choosing the right footwear is most important. Considering the monsoon hits our shores every year, you'd think rain-ready footwear would be easy to find. But, as media professional Munira Chendvankar indicates, this isn't so: "Every monsoon, I am faced with a quandary. Finding footwear that is a perfect balance of functionality and style is so difficult. It's usually a choice between clunky, masculine rain boots which I hate, or flimsy rain slippers that expose my feet and don't survive the wrath of the rains."

Shoes to wear in the rains
Making the right footwear choice is imperative in the monsoons. "Choose footwear that is sleek, waterproof and safe. The mantra is easy to wear, easy to remove and easy to dry," outlines footwear designer Neelam Prasad.

For wading through water, your best bets are boots that prevent water contact with your feet. Calf-length boots are also a good idea because this is the time ill-mannered motorists zip through puddles on roads, ensuring that you get drenched while walking. Burberry's fabulous range of rainboots comes to mind, since it is both functional and fashionable.

If you're not much of a boots person, don a chic pair of all-terrain shoes, available at Woodland or Timberland. The shoe acts as an armour, keeping your feet snug, warm and dry. Amphibiox by Geox promises high performance rain shoes with waterproof, breathable soles through a patented technology. The shoes offer comfort, lightness, quick drying and durability.

Always check the quality of waterproof shoes you intend to purchase. The market is flooded with all types of shoes promising to be waterproof. However, many of these will start peeling or turning green. The soles may fall off and insoles will strip in no time.

Avoid high heels, as they could lead you to slip and fall. If you must wear heels, a modest pair of platforms should be opted for. Sneakers are also a bad idea as they are seldom waterproof and may not dry out for days.

In case you're walking through a light drizzle with no waterlogging, you could choose open footwear such as strappy sandals, flip-flops and slippers, which are comfortable and dry quickly. Stylish Mary Janes (with a small heel, if you must) are also a reliable bet.

Shoe material is as important as design. The best bets are water-resistant materials such as synthetic leather or gor-tex, rubber and plastic – basically any material designed to keep water out. For business wear, one can go for Cordovan leather (the most non-porous leather known) to keep it classy. "Leather, cotton, jute, suede and silk are a complete no-no for the monsoons. They soak water and do not dry quickly," points out Neelam Prasad.

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