A dramatic increase in foot infections from unclean yoga mats, reported by a podiatrist last week, remains a mystery to other podiatrists who have seen no such increase. Significantly, while all the evidence in this brouhaha is anecdotal everyone agrees that research has not confirmed a link between dirty yoga mats and fungal, viral, or bacterial foot infections. Greg Cohen, D.P.M., of Long Island College Hospital and in private practice in New York City’s tony Brooklyn Heights, stirred concern with a report in the New York Times that in the last two years he has seen a “50% spike” in patients with plantar warts and athlete’s foot, probably due to bare-foot patients practicing yoga on unclean mats. “Hard to fathom the fuss,” said Martin B. Silverman, D.P.M., who practices in suburban New Rochelle. Not only has Dr. Silverman seen no increase in infections among his many patients, but he said “it’s hard to ascribe these things to one set of causes.”
Ah! But remember Dr. Cohen practices right here in TONY Brooklyn Heights:
As for Dr. Cohen, when asked why his experience appears to differ, his answer was, “location.” The upscale Brooklyn Heights area where he practices, he says, has many new yoga facilities, which may account for the increase in patients who arrive at his office with foot infections. Mats need to be disinfected with bleach or Lysol (which contains citric acid), although alcohol may not do a good enough job, according some podiatrists. And everyone agrees that a soap and water wipe can’t do the job. One solution, the podiatrists say, is to bring one’s own mat, rather than using the facility’s mat, although many health clubs stoutly insist that they take adequate hygienic precautions.
Sock it to ’em Dr. Greg!