Foot odour is a common condition. Even the most fastidiously clean people can get smelly feet. Luckily, there are many simple treatments available that can assist you.
The Causes of Smelly Feet
Smelly feet are caused by a number of reasons including: excessive perspiration, microbial activity, conditions of the skin such as Atheletes feet (tinea pedis), shoes that don't breathe, and in a small number of people, poor hygiene habits. They are found more commonly in people with excessively sweaty feet (hyperhidrosis), those who are stressed, experiencing hormonal changes or taking certain medications.
The main reason why feet get smelly is that feet are generally hidden in a cosy, damp and warm environment: ie our shoes, which act as a haven for bacteria and fungal growth. With each foot containing over 250,000 sweat glands and producing approximately a cup of sweat a day, the moisture loving bacteria and fungus, which naturally live on our body, can increase in number to the point where feet can develop an offensive odour. In fact, the bacteria produced on the soles of the feet is similar to those found in the production of cheese.
Treating Smelly Feet
- Make sure your feet can breath. The best way to do this is by wearing suitable shoes and socks.
- Use mild antiseptic or anti-fungal soaps if needed.
- Topical ointments and oral medication may be subscribed for fungal or bacterial infections such as Pitted Keratolysis or Athletes Foot.
- Regular foot baths with a gentle foot scrub or exfoliation to rid your feet of the excessive layers of dead skin cells that the microbes live on and can smell when they break down in a moist environment.
- Avoid shoes that don't breathe such as those with solid synthetic materials in the upper or lining of dress shoes. When choosing sport shoes, choose those that are designed to allow air flow around the feet.
- Try to rotate your shoes on a daily basis, to give them time to dry out and air.
- Wear socks with shoes where possible.
- If needed you can also treat your shoes with a number of antibacterial shoe deodorisers. These may include sprays or powders.
- Change your socks at least once a day (change your shoes as well if you sweat a lot).
- Socks made from natural fibers such as wool and cotton are more suited for controlling foot odour. Socks which contain synthetic material such as nylon or polyester, will retain moisture and therefore encourage foot odour.
Try to buy all cotton or all wooden socks. If this is not practical, then it is recommended that you purchase a blend with at least 80% natural fibres.
- Whilst it is not a common practice, it is not unheard of to use antiperspirant deodorants on the feet.
If you suffer from smelly feet, it might be worth getting it checked out by your podiatrist. After all, there are many different causes and it might pay to get the right advice.