When foot odor is intense, it can permeate the thickest socks and take hold of your best Italian leather loafers. It does not discriminate when and where it will make its appearance. This makes living with severe foot odor something that literally makes you sweat. Only someone with this problem knows that is not an exaggeration.
When stinky feet not only ruin your shoes but end your relationships and reduce career opportunities, it’s time to take action. Luckily, you can get rid of stinky feet with ease and start living life without the fear of being caught with your shoes off.
What Causes Smelly Feet?
For starters, each foot has over 250,000 sweat glands, with the ability to produce more than a pint of sweat each day. What's worse is when the perspiration generated from your feet is not allowed to evaporate, the bacteria that live on your skin eat the sweat. As the bacteria chow down, it produces isovaleric acid, and that is what causes the odor.
There are other reasons your feet might stink. For example, Athlete’s foot causes a fungus that stinks. You can also be wearing shoes that don’t allow your feet to breathe properly or be wearing the same pair of shoes every day. This makes it more likely your shoes will stink, and, in turn, your feet will smell. It’s a vicious circle. Certain medications, health issues, and, of course, poor hygiene can also contribute to smelly feet issues.
Extremely Sweaty Feet
Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, is a medical condition affecting different body areas, including the feet. If you find your feet sweat excessively to the point they are “swampy,” then the chances are that you have plantar hyperhidrosis.
If you have hyperhidrosis, you probably started noticing your foot odor by your teen years. You might have also noticed that your feet (or other body parts) do not tend to sweat at night while you sleep. Your feet may become so sweaty that you actually slip on smooth floors when walking barefoot. You may even have trouble wearing flip flops and sandals because your feet are so sweaty that they slide out of your shoes.
Living with hyperhidrosis is embarrassing, but it can be controlled. You’ve got plenty of options to help manage not only the excess sweating but also those stinky feet that are making your life miserable. Let’s look at how to wage war on stinky feet and win!
Ramp Up Foot Hygiene
Keeping things ultra clean is the first step in your fight against stink with this daily routine.
Even the best of us are probably washing our feet incorrectly. We tend to wash over our bodies in a general fashion, and by the time we get down to our toes, we’ve lost our enthusiasm. Here’s how to do it right:
- Choose an antibacterial soap for your feet.
- Wash your feet thoroughly all over and between your toes.
- Dry your feet thoroughly and remove all moisture, especially between your toes.
- Wipe your feet and toes all over with an alcohol wipe.
- Spray your feet with an athlete’s foot spray powder or dust them with good old-fashioned Dr. Scholl's Odor Fighting Foot Powder. It’s been around for decades, so it must be doing something right!
If you do this every morning, you’ll be providing your feet with a fighting chance to remain as dry as possible.
Next, you'll want to start an evening routine as well. Most people don't realize they are misusing their antiperspirant. Wait. Did we say antiperspirant? For feet? Yes. Using a strong antiperspirant for your feet will help cut down on sweating. Follow these steps, and you'll be reducing that sweat:
- Choose an antiperspirant that contains a high content of aluminum chloride to help block sweat ducts to reduce sweating.
- Ensure your feet are completely dry.
- Apply your antiperspirant according to the directions, using your choice of spray or roll-on.
- Be sure to get between your toes as this tends to be the sweatiest spot on your feet.
You can reapply your antiperspirant in the morning and carry it with you to reapply during the day. Also, if you have additional issues with your feet such as rashes, warts, fungal infections, and more, you might want to speak to your doctor as antiperspirants can irritate when applied to broken skin.
Exfoliate your feet at least once per week to remove the dead skin that odor-causing bacteria love to feed on. You can remove the dead cells using an exfoliating brush or glove. Plus, your feet will be soft and smooth.
Go All Natural
Natural home remedies are all the rage. If you prefer the natural approach, there are several things you can try, including:
- Apple Cider Vinegar Baths: You can reduce odor-causing bacteria with a daily foot soak in 1-part vinegar and 2-parts water. Vinegar is a natural astringent that will tighten pores to help reduce sweat. Dry your feet thoroughly after soaking.
- Tea Soaks: Tea has the same effect as vinegar. Steep four or five black or sage tea bags in a quart of boiling water. Cool the tea and then soak your feet for 20 minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly.
- Salt Washes: Combine 1/2 cup kosher salt and 4 cups of water and soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly.
- Natural Powders: You can freshen feet and absorb extra moisture using baking soda, baby powder, cornstarch, or talcum powder.
- Lemon Juice Wash: You can apply lemon juice to your feet and toes instead of using alcohol wipes in your daily hygiene regime.
- Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak: Australian Tea Tree Oil not only kills bacteria and fungus but also provides a soothing soak for achy feet.
For an extra boost to your foot baths, you can also add a drop of thyme or lavender oil. They not only smell good but also provide an extra boost of bacteria-killing power. Just be sure to test your skin for potential allergies or irritation with a small drop on your skin first.
Foot Odor Fighting Arsenal
One of the biggest culprits for foot odor is your own shoes. There are tons of products on the market, claiming to be the ultimate cure for stinky shoes. However, not all of them work. Here are some of the best weapons to add to your stinky shoe fighting arsenal:
- Remodeez Footwear Deodorizer: This unique natural product gets charged in the sun to activate the charcoal and coconut husks. They are hypoallergenic and can be inserted into your shoes overnight to fight the stink.
- Zorpads Odor Destruction Shoe Inserts: Adhesive antibacterial squares offer serious odor-fighting inserts that will not affect the fit of your shoes.
- Sof Sole Sneaker Balls: These balls are highly rated for their deodorizing powers.
- Foot Sense All-Natural Foot & Shoe Powder: This is the non-toxic foot powder of choice in the running crowd, ideal for stinky sports gear. You can leave it in your shoes for a few days to kill the bacteria that are causing the stink.
- Biokleen Bac-Out Stain & Odor Remover: This natural odor remover destroys not only the stink of your shoes but also the stink left in your closet or home. Citrus extracts and essential oils like lavender or lemon-thyme keep your shoes and home smelling fresh.
- OdoBan Odor Eliminator & Disinfectant: This one is touted as the killer of odors most foul, leaving the refreshing scent of eucalyptus in its wake.
- Brita Replacement Filters: This product might not be designed for foot odor, but pop them into your shoes, and they’ll help filter away the stench.
- Elite Shoe Deodorizer and Foot Spray: Another all-natural deodorizer, this one can be used both in your shoes and directly on your feet to control moisture and fight stink-causing bacteria.
You might have to try a few to find the one that works best for you, but it’s worth the effort.
If the hundreds of obvious reasons to enjoy a healthier diet haven’t convinced you yet, then maybe stinky feet will be the final straw. Eating well can help reduce sweating.
The major troublemaker is refined carbohydrates, which sadly includes a lot of the foods most of us love like white bread, white pasta, and white rice. They tend to invite bacteria and fungus to the party, allowing them to thrive, which leads to odor issues, including stinky feet.
Drinking more water and less caffeine as well as cutting out processed and fast foods is a start. Then add more protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, which includes whole grains, fruits, and veggies, to reduce the chances of stinky feet.
See a doctor for stinky feet? It might seem a little extreme, but if your life is miserable because of stinky feet, it’s worth the trip. And remember, plantar hyperhidrosis is considered a medical condition.
Your doctor can assess your situation and determine if medical treatments might be effective, including:
- Prescription Strength Antiperspirant: As mentioned, the aluminum chloride found in antiperspirants fights sweat. Your doctor can provide a prescription strength antiperspirant that contains higher amounts of this active ingredient to super-size the pore-clogging action and prevent stinky feet.
- Iontophoresis Treatment: This treatment has been used for decades to treat excessive sweating of both hands and feet. It applies mild electrical currents and medication to the skin surface to effectively reduce sweating.
- Botox Injections: These injections can block the chemicals responsible for stimulating sweat-causing nerves. A word of warning: The treatments have to be repeated every three to four months, and it can also be quite painful.
Wearing the same pair of shoes every day is not only a major fashion faux pas, but it is also the fastest ticket to heightening your foot odor. If your feet sweat excessively, your shoes may not have enough time to dry out before you wear them again. You then sweat in already sweaty shoes day after day, which intensifies odor.
Make sure you have at least two pairs of shoes and rotate them from wear to wear. Even if you come home after work and are going out for the night, switch shoes. This will allow your shoes time to dry out. You should place your shoes in a sunny spot to help them dry out and stay fresh. Pop in one of the odor-fighting products we recommend to help freshen shoes and kill bacteria.
You can also look at care instructions for athletic shoes, as many are machine washable. Most shoes have removable insoles, which you can also place in the washer. Odor-absorbing insoles should also be worn but be sure to replace them at least every six months or more.
If you do have stinky shoes, and your odor-fighting products aren’t cutting it, it’s time to buy a new pair. Stinky shoes equal stinky feet. Shop for breathable shoes with proper ventilation. Leather and canvas can help keep feet dry. You can also choose shoes with open-mesh sides or sandals in the summer months.
Just be sure to avoid sandals containing plastic or rubber.
Socks Are Key
Socks are another tool in your foot odor arsenal. Make sure you are wearing proper socks to help reduce moisture and fight odor. Ejis has discovered the secret to odor-fighting socks, using silver anti-odor technology in hand with moisture-wicking materials. These comfortable, fashionable socks stop odor-causing bacteria in its tracks.
Moisture-wicking terry loops keep sweat away from your feet while special mesh ventilation zones improve air circulation. Your feet stay cool, naturally reducing sweat and odors.
The silver embedded in the Ejis dress socks continues to fight odor even after 100 washes. Ejis stands behind their product with a three-month Sock Insurance policy. Your socks are covered for stink protection, holes, rips, and tears. If the socks don’t last for three months, they’ll give you a replacement pair; no questions asked.
These stinky feet fighting tactics should help you finally feel confident taking your shoes off.