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Foot Fetish: A Look At The Use Of Silver In Footwear

By James Fowler

While foot odor is rarely discussed around the water cooler, it is an embarrassing problem that affects millions of people. Your feet harbor millions of organisms and bacteria. Our feet can produce over a cup of moisture per day, and the heat and moisture build up in our shoes to create an active source for these organisms to develop and grow.

Foot odor occurs when various bacteria, primarily corynebacteria and micrococci, break down denatured proteins found on the skin and footwear, resulting in undesired smells from the feet. The feet are the places where odors most commonly occur because they provide a warm, moist breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. Fortunately, eliminating the bacteria usually eliminates the odor.

There are many "cures for stopping foot odor from charcoal filters, to scents that mask the odor and other artificial chemical substances. One of the most recent uses of destroying foot odor is the element silver spun into the weave of the fabric. Silver has been used for over 4000 years as an anti-bacterial agent and is still commonplace in hospitals today. Scientists were unable to bond the silver permanently to thread until the last century. With the problems associated with bacteria and the foot, why wouldn't this natural element find a place in the footwear industry?

So, what is silver? Silver is a chemical element on the periodic table that has the symbol Ag (from the traditional abbreviation from the Latin, Argentum). It is a soft, white lustrous transition metal; silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal. Silver has traditionally been used in coins, tableware, and jewelry. In medicine, it is the first medicine introduced to a newborn baby's eyes (as in silver nitrate), colloidal silver is used as a liquid anti-bacterial, and silver sulfadiazine is used as a topical cream for burn victims.

Silver is now also being used in the footwear industry for shoes, insoles and socks. There are many benefits beyond foot odor that these products offer. Below is a short description of these features:

Anti-Odor: A common misconception is that antimicrobial is synonymous with anti-odor. Silver offers both antimicrobial and anti-odor benefits. Bacteria are only one cause of body odor. Ammonia and denatured proteins are also significant contributors to odor in footwear. Incredibly, both ammonia and denatured proteins bind most readily with silver. Because silver is on the outside of the fiber, this allows for immediate binding with these odor causing agents "resulting in instant odor reduction!

Anti-Bacterial: The antimicrobial performance of silver has proven to have distinct performance advantages. It has been proven to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria on the material in less than one hour of exposure. Silver will also kill bacteria and fungi faster as the temperature in your footwear rises due to activity because its anti-microbial properties are activated with heat.

Temperature Control: The biophysics of footwear has become an area of significant interest in recent years. It is now possible to use the existing energy of the body and the environment to actively regulate temperature through heat transfer. Silver footwear enhances the natural movement of moisture through evaporation. Silver accelerates the evaporation of moisture. As a result, it transports the moisture away from the body faster, allowing for a more comfortable environment and less potential for convective heat loss. In warm weather, silver-lined footwear addresses evaporation by dissipating the amount of moisture in contact with your feet. What's more, because heat and moisture are being dispersed over the entire surface of the shoe or insole, hot spots and blisters are greatly reduced!

In conclusion, silver in footwear, is a logical response to anyone who might suffer from foot odor, has a specific medical problem - such as diabetes, in which the foot would benefit from bacteria being eliminated, or with people who have problems with blisters and hot spots on their feet. Silver-lined footwear: A new treatment using an old cure.

About The Author
James Fowler is Director of Marketing for Acor Orthopaedic, Inc.

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