Smelly feet aren’t a fun and can really affect your day to day life. Sweaty feet and smelly feet go hand in hand. There are a number of things you can do to treat them and more importantly prevent it from happening, especially if you are someone who only suffers in the summer months.
Why do we get smelly feet?
Did you know that there are more sweat glands per square inch of our feet than anywhere else on the body? Everyone sweats to some degree but some people such as teenagers and pregnant women are more prone due to hormone changes. You’re also more likely to have sweaty feet if you’re on your feet all day, wear shoes that are too tight, are under a lot of stress, or have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, which makes you sweat more than usual.
Sweaty feet isn’t the leading cause of smelly feet – sweat doesn’t really have a smell. It is the bacteria on the skin which grow from the dampness in your socks and shoes throughout the day, which decomposes the sweat which gives it its lovely cheesy odour! We give that cheesy odour a fancy name called bromodosis. The bacteria (and sometimes fungal spores) continue to have a party even when you have taken your shoes off at the end of the day so even if you put them on again after a nice warm shower – the bacteria continue to thrive on the warmth, dark, moisture rich environment they get given! Great hey? So, if our feet are going to sweat, how can we stop the smell apart from showering every few hours?
Prevent your feet from excess sweat
- Try and wear shoes with socks – ideally cotton and not nylon which will allow your feet to breathe more.
- Avoid shoes made from plastic type material shoes which are less breathable – stick to leather and canvas materials.
- Change your socks more frequently through the day to ensure you aren’t sitting in damp socks all day, particularly if you are more prone to sweaty feet or doing activities which encourage your feet to sweat more.
- Try feet-fresh socks or bamboo socks which are designed to draw the sweat away from you skin. Some sports socks have ventilation panels to keep feet dry.
- When you can, wear open-toed sandals to allow your feet to breathe.
Avoid the build-up of bacteria
- Wash and dry your feet every day.
- If you are particularly prone use wash your feet with an antibacterial soap once a day (a pharmacist can advise you about different products) and change your socks (ideally wool or cotton, not nylon) at least once a day.
- Try antibacterial socks which are impregnated with chemicals to discourage the odour-producing bacteria that feed on sweat
- Try deodorising insoles
- Use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet – a normal underarm deodorant or antiperspirant works just as well
- Keep your toenails short and clean and remove any hard skin with a foot file or by seeing a podiatrist to remove it. Hard skin can become soggy when damp, which provides an ideal home for bacteria
- Try and not wear the same shoes 2 days in a row to allow them to fully dry out Its worth buying teenage boys 2 pairs of school shoes to ensure they have time to dry out before being worn again.
- Ensure you dry well in-between toes to prevent fungal infection. Dab between your toes with cotton wool dipped in surgical spirit after a shower or bath – surgical spirit helps dry out the skin between the toes really well – in addition to drying them with a towel
Treat any fungus and bacteria on your feet
- Try washing your feet with an anti-bacterial soap called Hibiscrub. Leave it on a few minutes then wash it off. Do this twice a day for a week and the problem should be gone! Don’t use on broken skin such as eczema
- Use fungal skin treatment such as Lamisil once
- Wash socks on a hot 60 degree wash
- Spray shoes with an antifungal spray such as daktarin active.
If you have tried the above advice and not made any improvements, contact your GP or Podiatrist who can help advise you further. You don’t need to suffer any more!