According to the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management (AAPPM), the feet and hands contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body, with roughly 3,000 glands per square inch. Smelly feet are not only embarrassing, but can be physically uncomfortable as well.
Feet smell for two reasons: 1) shoe wear, and 2) sweating of the feet. The interaction between the perspiration and the bacteria that thrive in shoes and socks generates the odor. Therefore, any attempt to reduce foot odor has to address both sweating and footwear.
Smelly feet or excessive sweating can also be caused by an inherited condition, called hyperhidrosis, which primarily affects men. Stress, some medications, fluid intake, and hormonal changes also can increase the amount of perspiration our bodies produce. In general, smelly feet can be controlled with a few preventive measures:
• Always wear socks with closed shoes.
• Avoid wearing nylon socks or plastic shoes. Instead, wear shoes made of leather, canvas, mesh, or other materials that let your feet breathe.
• Bathe feet daily in lukewarm water, using a mild soap. Dry thoroughly.
• Change socks and shoes at least once a day.
• Check for fungal infections between toes and on the bottoms of your feet. If any redness or dry, patchy skin is observed, get treatment right away.
• Don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. If you frequently wear athletic shoes, alternate pairs so that the shoes can dry out. Give your shoes at least 24 hours to air out between wearings; if the odor doesn't go away, discard the shoes.
• Dust your feet frequently with a non-medicated baby powder or foot powder. Applying antibacterial ointment also may help.
• Practice good foot hygiene to keep bacteria levels at a minimum.
• Wear thick, soft socks to help draw moisture away from the feet. Cotton and other absorbent materials are best.
Persistent foot odor can indicate a low-grade infection or a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, a prescription ointment may be required to treat the problem. More info can be found at this website: http://www.aappm.org/library/1932/SmellyFeetandFootOdor.html .
Your kitchen is full of natural home remedies that can help banish foot odor, according to Discovery Fit & Health. If removing your footwear at the end of the day calls to mind the scent of a postgame locker room, give these natural home remedies a try.
Home Remedies from the Cupboard:
Baking Soda. Don't just let those shoes sit there without odor support! Bring on the baking soda! Deodorize shoes by sprinkling 1 or 2 teaspoons baking soda inside to absorb moisture and hide odors. For added fragrance, combine 3 tablespoons baking soda with 3 tablespoons ground, dried sage leaves. Combine the sage and baking soda and place into an airtight glass jar. After removing your shoes for the day, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each shoe. Shake and leave overnight. The following day, keep the sage-soda in the shoes. In the evening remove excess sage-soda mix, and replace it with a fresh supply. Repeat nightly. Another way to use baking soda is in a foot bath. Add 2 tablespoons baking soda to a bowl of warm water. Soak feet every night for a month.
--Cornstarch: A less fancy solution to keeping shoes deodorized and dry is to sprinkle the inside with 1 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
--Salt: Add table salt or Epsom salts to water for a foot soak. Pour a few teaspoons of salt into a tub of warm water. Soak for ten minutes.
--Vinegar: Soak your feet several times a week in an apple cider or plain vinegar bath. Mix 1/3 cup vinegar into a bowl of warm water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
Home Remedies from the Refrigerator:
--Ginger: Mash a 1- or 2-inch piece of ginger into a pulp, put it into a handkerchief or piece of gauze, and soak it in some hot water for a few minutes. Rub the ginger liquid onto each foot nightly after taking a shower. Try for two weeks.
--Radish: You can't squeeze blood from a turnip, but you can squeeze an anti-stink solution from a radish. Juice about two dozen radishes, add 1/4 teaspoon glycerine, and pour in a squirt or spray-top bottle. Spritz on toes to reduce foot odor.
Home Remedies from the Sink:
--Black tea: Soak tootsies in black tea. Tannic acid, a component of tea, is thought to have astringent properties that prevent feet from perspiring. To make a foot-tea soak, brew 5 bags black tea in 1 quart boiling water. Let cool, add ice cubes (during summertime), and soak in this "iced tea for the toes" bath for 20 to 30 minutes.
--Water: A remedy for sweaty feet involves alternating footbaths of hot and cold water to help reduce blood flow to your feet and reduce perspiration. After luxuriating in a hot foot bath, shock those toes by dipping them into a second foot bath containing cool water, ice cubes, and 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice (if available). Rub your feet with alcohol following the bath. Try this dual treatment once a day, especially in warmer months.
With some diligence on your part and a few natural home remedies, you can banish foot odor for good. More info about this subject can be found at this site: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-foot-odor.htm .
And finally, a few more tips to help reduce foot odor, from this website, complete with photos: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Foot-Odor .
• Stress can stimulate sweating. That's why you might notice that your life and your feet stink at the same time.
• Try a natural deodorant that is crystal based. These sprays work by making the skin inhospitable for bacteria
• If you're in a pinch, you can scrub your feet with an anti-bacterial wipe or a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
• Make sure you are getting the USDA recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc. A zinc deficiency can lead to foot odor, as well as general body odor AND bad breath. Make sure zinc is included in your multi- vitamin or get a separate zinc supplement.
• Powder your shoes outside, where there is good ventilation, e.g., on the porch
• Use foot powders that are mostly made of cornstarch or other non-talc ingredients.
• Do not walk with only your socks on. They pick up lots of bacteria this way. Then, when you put your shoes back on, the bacteria population explodes in the moist, warm environment.
• Clipping and brushing your toe nails will probably help as well.
Foot odor is embarrassing, but it is not life threatening. When you want to get serious about taking care of this socially unacceptable health care issue, follow the tips in this blog that can help you overcome smelly feet. After all, you really don’t want people choking, fainting, or ignoring you all the time if they detect your foot odor, or if they smell you coming toward them before they see you enter the room.
Until next time.