It’s impossible to stop and smell the roses if your kid's feet are creating an inescapable malodorous odor. But before you despair and start questioning your parental skills and whether or not you’re bathing your child regularly enough, keep in mind that having stinky feet is a common health problem for growing children and babies. And the usual culprit of kids' foot odor is an excess of bacteria that thrives on foot sweat.
What Makes Kids’ Feet Stink?
Just like adults, the feet of children and babies have over 250,000 sweat glands, meaning there’s a lot of liquid pouring out of those tootsies. But hormonal changes and very active little lifestyles can create two to three times more sweat than adult feet produce. While perspiration in and of itself doesn’t smell bad, it feeds the bacteria living on your child’s body and in his or her shoes — and that’s what causes the smelly foot odor (which is called bromodosis in the medical world).
Most children’s shoes are made from inexpensive materials like polyurethane and plastic. The problem with these cheap substances is that they are non-breathable, meaning all that sweat your youngster's feet are producing has nowhere to go and not much of a chance to dry. Choosing shoes made out of cloth, canvas, leather and other breathable materials will allow your little one’s sweaty feet to dry much quicker than if he or she is wearing shoes made out of cheap materials.
Teeny-tiny infant socks may be the cutest things in the world, but they’re not always made from quality materials. Unless your little one's socks are made from 100% natural, breathable materials, they’re probably inducing a lot of foot sweat and harboring tons of bacteria.
Try as you might to keep your children clean, they come into contact with all sorts of bacteria, fungus and viruses at school and on the playground. These microbes feed on your child’s foot sweat and can even cause itchy, stinky infections like Athlete’s foot.
How Do I Tackle My Kids’ Smelly Foot Problem?
There are several home remedies you can try to cut down on childhood foot odors. They include:
- Daily Bathing: Try to wash your child’s feet on a daily basis with antibacterial soap and water. Doing so helps kill the bacteria that thrive on sweaty feet and dead skin cells.
- Choosing Proper Shoes and Socks: Try to purchase shoes and socks made out of natural, breathable material, and keep those shoes and socks clean and dry. Try moisture-wicking socks instead of cotton socks, which are slow-drying and can actually leave your little one’s feet wet and sweaty. Additionally, you can have your child go barefoot or wear sandals during warmer months to prevent moisture and help his or her tootsies breathe.
- Rotating Shoes: In order to make sure your little one's shoes have a chance to fully dry, make sure he or she doesn't wear the same pair two days in a row.
- Try an Antiperspirant or Foot Powder: Spray antiperspirants can help reduce foot sweat, as can talcum powder, baking soda or other foot powders. Spray your child’s soles with an antiperspirant in the morning and before bed, and try sprinkling powder onto the insoles of your child’s shoes to help soak up additional sweat.
- Avoid Lotion: Many worried parents try applying lotion to their children's smelly feet, but this can actually exacerbate a bromodosis problem by trapping the sweat on the skin and giving bacteria more to feed on.
When To See A Doctor
If following the above home remedies for stink feet doesn’t seem to show improvement in your kid's foot odor, you may want to consider visiting a podiatrist or pediatric specialist. A trained foot doctor can help you determine whether or not your child suffers from hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating. He or she can also help you rule out other possible conditions that can cause foot odors, like Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
If you're looking for more ways to keep your kids' feet smelling fresh and healthy, try whipping up one of these fun DIY foot scrubs that help get rid of dry, dead skin. Meanwhile, find out why pregnant moms often experience smelly feet in the months leading up to delivery and learn how to make powerful foot soaks that help combat the odor.