There’s nothing better after a long day than kicking off your shoes and relaxing. Unfortunately, kicking off your shoes when you have stinky feet could mean clearing the room, too.
It’s a fairly common issue, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. The medical term for this is bromodosis, and it’s generally caused by a build-up of sweat, which causes bacteria to grow on the skin.
These bacteria are what cause the bad odor, and there are many factors that can make it worse. Sometimes fungal infections like athletes foot can also cause the smell.
In extreme cases, the smell may even be coming from an infection in the skin or soft tissue. Let’s get into more detail.
- 1 What Causes Stinky Feet?
- 2 How to Prevent Stinky Feet
- 3 Foot Odor Remedy
- 4 Home Remedies for Stinky Feet
- 5 When to Consult Your Doctor
What Causes Stinky Feet?
Did you know that your feet have about 250,000 sweat glands? That’s more than any other part of the body!
These glands are used to help regulate your body temperature by keeping your skin moist and cool. There are natural bacteria on your feet, too, and they help break down the excess sweat as it’s released.
Unfortunately, since most of us wear shoes all day, the bacteria builds up.
While this can happen to anyone, the people most prone to bromodosis are pregnant women, teens, those with diabetes, people on their feet all day or under a lot of stress, athletes, and people who have a medical condition that cause them to sweat more than others.
In fact, about 3-5% of the population has this condition, called hyperhidrosis, which causes excessive sweating. That’s 367 million people!
This disease is more common in younger people, and in men more than women, but the sweating itself is still the cause of the odor.
Scientists aren’t one hundred percent sure what causes it yet, but there are reasons to believe that the condition is hereditary.
Aside from excessive sweating, people with hyperhidrosis tend to also get athletes foot, nail fungus, or suffer from continually cold feet.
So how to get rid of stinky feet? Luckily, the smelly feet cure is an easy one, as long as you’re ready to follow a few simple guidelines.
How to Prevent Stinky Feet
The Right Shoes and Socks
To avoid having the embarrassment of stinky feet in the first place, make sure you are wearing socks and shoes made of breathable material.
Synthetic materials tend to not allow as much airflow as natural ones, which can lead to a greater buildup of sweat.
Try to stick to cotton or wool for your socks, or even better, look for performance socks that wick the sweat away from your skin.
Many athletic socks have this, and even though they are made from synthetic fibers, they are manufactured in a way that’s supposed to keep your feet dry and cool. For your shoes, leather or canvas will allow your sweat to evaporate better.
Make sure you never go without socks; if you wear your shoes without socks, you are inviting bacterial growth, along with the accumulation of dead skin, dirt, oil, mold, and fungus growth in your shoes.
Rotate Your Shoes, and Their Types
Try to have two or three pairs of shoes that you wear on a regular basis, and rotate them.
Wearing one pair of shoes every other day is a great way to help prevent odor, as your shoes have a chance to fully dry between wearing them.
If the weather is warm, consider wearing open-toed sandals to give your toes a chance to breathe, and go barefoot when possible inside to allow your feet to completely dry.
Take Care of Your Socks
Change your socks every single day. If it is hot outside or you are particularly sweaty, change them more often.
To make sure they get properly cleaned each time you wash them, turn them inside-out before you toss them into the laundry.
You can also purchase inserts for your shoes that have active charcoal, which will help absorb foot odor.
To help keep your shoes smelling fresh, make sure you let them air out in a well-lit, well-ventilated spot.
You can also use an antibacterial spray, baking powder, baby powder, cornstarch, talcum powder, over-the-counter shoe odor controls, or cedar chips to help keep them odor-free as well.
Change Your Diet
Research has also suggested that a change in diet can help prevent smelly feet.
Eliminating refined carbohydrates from your diet can help reduce the bacteria and fungus on your body and reduce inflammation.
A well-balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, as well as reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can all have a positive impact on your foot odor.
Foot Odor Remedy
The easiest way to get rid of stinky feet is basic foot hygiene. Wash your feet with an antibacterial every single day, and dry them completely, especially in between the toes.
Clip your toenails to keep them short, and clean them regularly. Remember, when trimming your toenails, cut them in a straight line in order to prevent ingrown toenails, which can also lead to infections and a bad smell.
Drying and Filing
Also, remove the hard, dead skin from your feet with a foot file; when you sweat, this skin becomes soft, and is a perfect place for bacteria to grow.
Not only will a foot file help keep your feet smelling better, but they will feel better, too.
When you dry your feet, you can also use a bit of rubbing alcohol or witch hazel to help dry your skin completely. This is especially useful between the toes, where moisture is more likely to become trapped.
Athlete’s Foot Spray
If you suffer from athlete’s foot, make sure you spray both your shoes and your feet with an over-the-counter athlete’s foot spray or powder in addition to keeping your feet clean.
This will help clear up the fungal infection faster and help the odor. If you are prone to this condition, make sure you are changing your shoes and socks regularly, and cleaning them in between wears.
If you suffer from excessive sweating due to a medical condition such as hyperhidrosis, you can apply antiperspirant to your feet.
There are some sprays made specifically for this purpose, but be careful not to walk barefoot after applying, as it can be very slippery.
Antiperspirants are best applied right before bed. You sweat less at night, so it allows the antiperspirant to build up on your skin, and will then be more effective during your waking hours.
If the basics don’t work, the question remains: how to get rid of smelly feet? There are a few other easy things you can do.
Home Remedies for Stinky Feet
How to cure stinky feet in the comfort of your own home? All you need is a few supplies, many of which you may already own.
Be sure you continue to wash your feet every day, but once your feet are clean and dry, apply baking soda, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder to help absorb any extra moisture.
Essential oils like tea tree oil can not only add a pleasant scent but have anti-fungal properties as well.
There are a few different kinds of foot soaks you can try:
- Apple Cider Vinegar Bath – Combine one part apple cider vinegar to two parts water, and soak your feet for 10-15 minutes. This will not only help kill the odor, but has anti-fungal properties like essential oils.
- Tea Soaks – Add four or five tea bags to a quart of hot water. You can use black tea, or even mint tea to add a pleasant scent. Brew the tea as you normally would, then allow it to cool, and soak your feet for 20-30 minutes each day. The tannins in the tea help shrink your pores, which reduces sweating.
- Baking Soda Soak – Add 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda to warm water, and soak for 20 minutes or so.
- Salt Wash – Add half a cup of kosher salt or a quarter cup of Epsom salts to four cups of water. Soak for 10-15 minutes. Not only will this help combat odor, but it’s good for the health of your skin overall.
When to Consult Your Doctor
If everything so far hasn’t helped stop your feet from smelling, it may be time to see a podiatrist or dermatologist.
They may prescribe a stronger anti-fungal medication, or perform tests to see what the underlying cause of your sweating is.
Sometimes, a persistent smell can be caused by a different medical condition, such as an infection in between the toes where you may have missed it.
If you are diabetic or have a compromised immune system, it is important to see your doctor as soon as you notice foot odor, as it is more likely to be an infection that can quickly become serious.
If you do consult your doctor, there are a few different ways they may treat your foot odor. They can prescribe stronger antiperspirants or anti-fungal powders and sprays, or give you other suggestions for home remedies.
They may also treat via iontophoresis. This is a mild electrical current delivered through water to your skin, meant to reduce the incidence of stinky feet. There are iontophersis machines that you can purchase for in-home use as well.
If you suffer from hyperhidrosis and your case is severe, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure called a sympathectomy. This interrupts the nerve signals that tell the body to sweat, in order to keep your body from sweating excessively.
Your doctor may also suggest Botox, also known as the botulinum toxin. It is injected into the feet, and has been known to help excessive underarm sweating.
The injection tends to be very painful, however, and may only last 3-4 months before it needs to be done again, so this is best used as a last resort.
Here’s a video showing doctor-recommended tips for getting rid of smelly feet.
Do you have any remedies or tips for stinky feet?