If you think your flip flops are actually causing numbness between your big and second toe, you are not imagining this.

Flip flops can really mess up your feet.

You may want to strongly consider ditching flip flops, because they can cause several problems with your feet and toes, including that worrisome numbness.

Not to mention the fact that when a person with poor foot/toenail hygiene wears flip flops, everyone can see what’s going on with their feet, toes and nails – be it cracked scaly skin, dirty unkempt toenails or hairy toes that poke out in strange directions.

Don’t Sacrifice Foot Health for Style

Think about what your feet must do, every time you take a step in flip flops, to prevent them from sliding off your feet.

It’s no wonder flip flops can cause so many problems with the feet. Numb toes are nothing to shrug off, even if you’re young.

“When you are wearing flip flops with no arch support and no off-loading support to the metatarsal heads, that can lead to irritation in the lesser metatarsophalangeal joints as well as to cause bursitis (inflammation of the bursa), and also to cause irritation to the surrounding peripheral nerves,” explains Dr. Velimir Petkov, DPM, surgeon and sports medicine specialist of the foot with Premier Podiatry in Clifton, NJ.

A condition called Morton’s neuroma can develop. This is when “peripheral nerves that are innervating the toes get impinged,” says Dr. Petkov, “and that causes them to swell and get inflamed.”

Lay off the flip flops and see if any numbness between your great toe and second toe doesn’t disappear.

And when it does, this doesn’t mean it’s okay to resume wearing flip flops, even if it’s hot outside.

Wearing footwear designed for comfortable walking should not be a problem in hot weather.

Furthermore, if you’re at all conscious of skin cancer prevention, this should be extra motivation to abandon the flip flops, which expose the skin of your feet and toes to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

It’s one thing to wear them around a swimming pool or beach, but it seems as though more and more people of all ages are wearing them while shopping, walking around all over the city, even all day at the workplace.

The numbness in the toes may not come till a while after the flip flops are removed, and the sufferer may not be able to connect the dots.

Problems Other than Numbness Including a Possible Need for Surgery

“Wearing simple flip flops without any arch support can’t only cause heel pain, but can only aggravate pain in the distal aspect of the feet,” says Dr. Petkov.

“Another potential problem with wearing flip flops is that they can cause irritation and swelling to the first metatarsophalangeal joint which can also cause plenty of throbbing and irritation as well as difficulty with the range of motion of the big toe joint.

“If not addressed properly on time, the big toe joint cartilage can wear and then the only option would be surgery.”

Dr. Petkov diagnoses and treats numerous ailments related to the lower extremities, and has special interests in sports medicine, wound care and the most advanced minimally invasive procedures for plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.