Smell is a powerful sense that we often take for granted—until something triggers it. Baking brownies, spring flowers, and a delicate perfume are pleasant scents that make people happily notice their surroundings. Foot odor, however, is a sour smell that no one enjoys. For anyone afflicted with smelly feet, you understand how unpleasant it is to have to remove your shoes in public.
Source of the Smell
That foot odor, which can be so embarrassing when you slip off your shoes, is caused by sweat mixing with bacteria. You have several hundred thousand sweat glands in your lower limbs that can produce up to a pint of moisture a day. You also have colonies of natural bacteria that live on the surface of your skin. They help eat the proteins and amino acids you sweat away. As they mingle with your sweat and break down waste substances, however, they excrete a foul smell.
If your feet don’t have a chance for the moisture to evaporate, the smelly mixture lingers and transfers to your footwear. The now-scented sweat ends up trapped in your socks and shoes. For people whose feet sweat excessively, this is especially a problem. Over time, the more your feet sweat and the more they are exposed to old moisture and bacteria, the more the odor compounds. You end up with foul-scented feet that can clear a room when you remove your shoes.
Sweetening the Scent
Eliminating and avoiding foot odor involves taking steps to accommodate your sweaty feet. Our doctors can help you employ footwear changes and recommend products to eradicate odor and discourage excessive sweating. Wear fresh socks with moisture-wicking properties every day, and change them routinely if you are especially active. Use shoes made from natural material that allow your feet to “breathe,” and try to avoid wearing the same pair two days in a row, so the inside of your shoes can dry between uses. Make sure you wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day as well.
Different products can help eat away at the smell in your shoes and limit your lower limbs’ perspiration. Baking soda and kitty litter, sprinkled into your shoes overnight and shaken out in the morning, help eat away the odor in your footwear. You may need to clean your shoes as well to eliminate the old, built-up perspiration. After your daily foot wash, consider rubbing your feet in antiperspirant deodorant. For severe cases, creams, ointments, and spray medications may help. One of the best things you can do is to take your shoes off, and let your feet breathe so they can dry out on their own.
You don’t have to be embarrassed by sweaty, smelly feet. Foot odor is unpleasant, but it can be addressed. With a little investment and care, you can eliminate the build-up of odor-causing excess sweat and bacteria. Don’t lock your feet away in shoes because you’re afraid of the smell—contact Country Foot Care for an appointment or more information to take care of your lower limbs. Fill out the online contact form, or call any of our office locations at (516) 741-FEET to reach us.