Foot odor — called bromodosis in the medical world — can easily have you turning green and feeling blue, but luckily it’s a common condition that is fairly easy to control. All it takes is a little knowledge about what causes smelly feet and then you can get rid of stinky feet for good.
Why Do My Feet Stink?
Believe it or not, there are more sweat glands found on the human foot than any other place on the body. This means that pretty much every single human being experiences foot sweat. However, the sweat is actually odorless: the stink comes when bacteria are given a chance to thrive in the warm, wet conditions. Therefore, the best way to reduce the odor is to reduce the sweat that the bacteria love to eat.
There are a number of reasons why some people have sweatier feet than others. They include hormones (which is why teenagers and pregnant women often have sweatier feet than most), stress, wearing shoes made of non-breathable material and frequently wearing shoes without giving them a chance to fully air out. Certain medical conditions like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of the feet) and fungal infections like Athlete’s foot can also create extra sweat and odour.
How Do I Tackle a Stinky Feet Problem?
You must focus on two areas to permanently get rid of stinky feet: your feet and your shoes. There are a number of home remedies to remove and prevent odor from both your feet and from your kicks. The most important include improving personal hygiene and rotating your shoes.
- Switch Your Shoes: One of the number one causes of foot odor is not giving your shoes enough time to completely dry out before wearing them again, so the most important thing you can do to eliminate foot odor is to rotate your shoes on a daily basis so that you never wear the same pair two days in a row. It also helps to choose footwear made out of comfortable, breathable material and to store shoes in the open rather than shut away in a closet so they’re able to get plenty of airflow.
- Keep Your Feet Clean: It’s important to thoroughly clean your feet daily and make sure they’re completely dry afterward. Try using an antibacterial soap like Hibiscrub to kill bacteria and keep it from coming back and a pumice stone to eliminate dead skin that bacteria can thrive on.
- Sock It To ‘Em: Cotton soaks are a much better bet than nylon socks because they allow your feet to breath. But if you truly want to control foot sweat and odor, it’s actually recommended that you avoid cotton socks (which can become sodden and smelly) and instead wear specially designed socks made out of moisture wicking material. You can also change your socks during the day to keep your feet smelling fresh.
- Powder Power: Another way to keep your feet and shoes dry is by using moisture-absorbing powder. Simply sprinkle cornstarch, talcum powder, baby powder or specially formulated foot powders into your shoes and onto your feet daily to keep them dry and smell-free.
- Use Antiperspirant: Just as antiperspirant and deodorant can help to keep your underarms dry and odor free, they can keep your feet dry and odor free, as well. Roll or spray an antiperspirant on your feet daily to keep sweat and odors at bay.
- Try Odor Eliminating Insoles: If your foot odor persists, you can try using special shoe insoles like Cedarsoles, which are a natural, antibacterial product meant to help control odours and conditions like Athlete’s foot.
- Soak Your Feet: There are a number of foot soaks that work wonders on smelly feet by acting as an astringent, drawing away moisture, killing bacteria and reducing pore size. For a list of salt, vinegar, baking soda, tea and other soaks that are effective in eliminating foot odor, check out this article.
- Go Barefoot: Give your feet a chance to breath as often as possible by going barefoot at home and wearing open-toes shoes and sandals in the summer.
When to See a Doctor
Most cases of bromodosis can easily be cleared up at home, but stubborn cases could signify other medical problems like fungal infections and hyperhidrosis, which is when the feet sweat excessively. In addition to offering medical-strength antiperspirants, doctors may suggest a treatment called iontophoresis, which is a process that delivers an electrical current via water to help combat excessive sweating caused by plantar hyperhidrosis. When in doubt about what’s causing your foot odor, it’s always best to visit your podiatrist or health care practitioner.