Feet and hands contain more sweat glands than all other parts of the body (about 3000 glands per square foot). Smelly feet can be not only annoying, but uncomfortable.
Feet smell for two reasons: you wear shoes and your feet sweat. The interaction between perspiration and the bacteria that develop in your shoes and socks generates odors. Therefore, any treatment aimed at reducing foot odor should treat both your perspiration and your shoes.
Smelly feet can also be caused by an inherited disease called hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, which mostly affects men. Stress, certain medications, fluid intake, and hormonal changes can also increase the level of perspiration your body produces.
How to Prevent Unpleasant Odors & Smelly Feet
Smelly feet can usually be treated with a few preventive measures:
- Always wear socks with closed shoes.
- Avoid nylon socks or wearing plastic shoes. Instead, wear leather shoes, canvas, trellises or other materials that allow your foot to breathe.
- Wash your feet every day in warm water, with a mild soap. Dry them well.
- Change your socks and shoes at least once a day.
- Check if you have no fungal infections between the toes and on the plantar surface. If you notice redness or dry patches on the skin, get treatment immediately.
- Do not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. If you often wear sports shoes, alternate pairs to let your shoes dry for at least 24 hours. If the smell does not fade, discard the shoes.
- Frequently talcate your feet with non-medicated baby powder or foot powder. Applying an antibacterial ointment can also help. Have good foot hygiene to reduce bacteria.
- Wear thick, soft socks to remove moisture from the feet. Cotton and all other absorbent materials are preferred.
These measures can also help prevent athlete’s foot, which can grow in this same environment. However, athlete’s foot disease can not be relieved by an antibacterial agent because it is caused by a fungal infection. Use an anti-fungal powder and good foot hygiene to treat this infection.
Smelly Feet Cures
The persistence of smelly feet may indicate a mild infection or be synonymous with a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, we can prescribe a special ointment. You will apply it to the feet at bedtime, then wrap your feet with a waterproof coating, such as plastic wrap.
Soaking your feet in strong black tea for 30 minutes a day for a week can also help. The acid in the tea kills the bacteria and closes the pores, keeping your feet dry longer. Use two bags of tea per liter of water. Boil for 15 minutes, then add two liters of cool water. Dip your feet in the cold solution. You can possibly soak your feet in a solution of vinegar and water.
A form of electrolysis called iontophoresis can also reduce excessive foot sweating, but it is more difficult to administer. In the most severe cases of hyperhidrosis, the surgeon can cut the nerve that controls sweating. Recent advances in technology have contributed to the growth of this type of intervention, however, thereafter you may experience sweating in other parts of your body.