05 Mar What Causes Foot Odor?
What Makes Your Feet Smell?
Are you cautious about taking your shoes off in public, because you’re afraid that bad smells are going to come wafting over from your feet? Bad-smelling feet can cause embarrassment and put a real damper on your social life. Learn how to get the smell under control and when you should see a podiatrist.
What Causes Feet to Smell?
Sweat itself has no odor. Once it’s on your skin, however, bacteria on the skin’s surface start to feed on the sweat. This bacterial activity produces a substance called isovaleric acid. That acid is the source of the foul odor on your tootsies.
In the case of feet, the smell can be compounded if you also have a fungal infection. These infections can cause odor by themselves or in conjunction with the bad-smelling bacteria.
To make matters worse, shoes aren’t cleaned the way clothing is. That means all that sweat, bacteria and fungus build up, getting stronger and stronger. Before long, the situation and the smell are overwhelming.
Sweaty, Smelly Feet: Who’s at Risk?
Changes to your body can affect the amount of sweat you produce. Hormone shifts and the use of certain medications can cause your endocrine system to go into overdrive.
Your chances of having smelly feet increase if:
- You’re on your feet all day.
- You have a tendency to sweat excessively.
- You’re undergoing severe hormonal changes. This can affect women who are pregnant and children going through puberty.
- You’re taking certain medications.
- You have athlete’s foot or fungal nail.
- You’re anxious or stressed out.
Home Remedies for Smelly Feet
Let your feet breathe. Wear open sandals in warm weather and walk barefoot whenever it’s safe to do so. If you wear socks in the house, choose socks in breathable fabrics and change them every day.
Never wear socks to sleep at night. This is unhealthy for your feet and can make them smell bad.
Keep footwear clean. Air out your shoes outside after every wearing. If you wear slippers, wash them once a week. Change your socks daily and launder them regularly. If your shoes are made from fabric, mesh, canvas, rubber or another washable material, toss them in the washing machine.
Keep feet dry. Never put socks and shoes on your wet feet. Always make sure your feet are totally dry before you put footwear on.
Try a deodorizing or medicating powder. A foot powder will keep sweating and smells down. There are many different types available. Baking soda is a good natural deodorant, but you should avoid it if you have dry or sensitive skin.
Reduce the smell of your shoes. If you can’t wash your shoes, do the next best thing by inserting liners. Use removable liners that can be washed. After you take the shoes off, wipe the inside area with an antibacterial hand gel to help keep them fresh.
Soak your feet. Regular foot soaks are soothing if you work on your feet or if your feet are swollen from pregnancy. Use Epsom salts or an oatmeal bath. Both of these help control odor and refresh your skin.
How Can a Podiatrist Help?
A podiatrist can help if you have a medical condition that’s causing excessive sweating or bad smells.
If you have a fungal nail infection, your podiatrist can prescribe topical treatments to clear it up quickly. This is often a good way to make headway on the smells. You’ll also end the flaking, scratching and soreness caused by a fungal infection.
The tendency to have excessively sweaty feet actually has a medical term. It’s called hyperhidrosis. If this is causing your excessive sweating, there are some prescription treatments your doctor can try. Ask your podiatrist to determine the cause of your excess sweat and what you can do to control it.
Don’t Hide Your Sweaty Feet
Your feet may be tucked away for the winter, but once warm weather hits, you’ll want to take them out of hiding. Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine can help you get ready now by getting treatments for your fungal nails or smelly feet.