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Health Update: How to Get Rid of Stinky Feet

Health Update: How to Get Rid of Stinky Feet

If you, your kids, or anyone else in your household has stinky feet, the stench can cause the whole family to block their noses. But, why is it that some feet smell so much worse than others?

The truth is that foot odor doesn’t really originate from the feet. The smell comes from the bacteria that reside on those feet and in the dirty socks and grimy shoes that cover them. Those bacteria get rid of waste just like people do. And it’s the waste that smells so unpleasant. When feet sweat profusely, they can play host to some extra-smelly bacteria.

If your feet reek, it may no consolation to know that foot odor is rarely a sign of a health problem. It’s still unpleasant and embarrassing. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of the germs and that awful odor. As a matter of fact, anything that stops your feet and shoes from developing into breeding grounds for bacteria will help.

There are a variety of things you can do to help keep your feet odor-free.

1) Keep them clean. Scrub your feet every day. Basically use a washcloth, soap, and water and be sure to get between your toes and dry your feet well before putting on your socks and shoes. If your shoes or sneakers are washable, toss them into the washer.

2) Have a soak. If soap and water just aren’t sufficient enough, try soaking your feet once a week for up to 20 minutes. Experts recommend a solution of warm water and either vinegar or Epsom salt.

3) Keep dry. The bacteria that make their residence on your feet and in your footwear flourish in moist places. So if you keep your feet dry, bacteria won’t feel welcome there.

Try these tips:

  • Change your socks if they get wet or sweaty.
  • Wear socks and shoes that let your feet breathe. Use athletic socks with moisture-wicking technology. As for footwear, mesh athletic shoes or real leather are your best bets. Avoid shoes made of synthetic materials.
  • Use powder or cornstarch in your shoes. Some foot-odor powders are deodorants; others absorb sweat.

4) Air them out. This applies to both your shoes and your feet. Spend time barefoot to let your feet air out. Alternate which shoes you wear so that they have a chance to dry completely between uses.

5) Use disinfectant. Spray a general household disinfectant in your shoes and on the insoles and then let them dry. It might also help to let them dry in the sun.

As previously mentioned, foot odor is rarely a sign of a health problem, but sometimes it can be triggered by an infection. Visit your healthcare provider if you see any signs of infection or if the smell does not improve. Additionally, if your feet are also extraordinarily sweaty, it may be a condition called plantar hyperhidrosis. This foot sweating may be so excessive that it can interfere with daily activities. Testing can be done to determine if you have this condition and how severe the problem may be. If you or a family member has hyperhidrosis, a doctor may recommend a prescription antiperspirant, prescription cream, or nerve-blocking medication to decrease the sweating. If those options don’t prove to be successful, Botox injections may be of some benefit. Keep in mind that even if you have a medical condition that leaves you prone to foot odor, taking steps to keep your feet clean and dry will help with the smell.