Aren’t we familiar with stinky feet? Most of us have a friend or a relative – or maybe it’s you – who can clear out a room when they kick off their shoes.
Medically known as bromodosis, stinky feet can be rather embarrassing and unpleasant you and everyone around you. Foot odor results from the perspiration of the feet mixed with bacterial growth on the skin. This is further promoted by wearing shoes for hours with poor ventilation of the feet.
Feet have a high density of sweat glands and continuously produce perspiration all day long. This combines with bacteria in the surface of the skin to produce the characteristic odor. Note that the bacteria found to be causing foot odors are normal residents of the skin and can be found on almost everyone. Foot odor now becomes a function of what we wear, how long we wear it, and how we take care of our feet. Given the right conditions, everyone will develop foot odor.
Socks being the ones in direct contact with our feet play such a pivotal role. The material make of the sock determines how much moisture it absorbs and how much ventilation the foot gets. For this matter, cotton socks are better than nylon and polyester since cotton absorbs more moisture and allows better ventilation. Shoes are the main determinant of how much air can ventilate the feet. Leather shoes allow very little air inside and make you more prone to having foot odor. Wearing shoes without socks increases the amount of moisture trapped and also the bacterial activity producing foot odor.
Causes of Foot Odor
Most of the moisture our feet produce each day evaporates before it has a chance to attract bacteria. But if you wear socks and shoes that do not allow evaporation, the moisture gets trapped and the bacteria begin growing. The bacteria stick to the skin and cause the foot to smell bad. Additional causes of foot odor include hyperhidrosis (sweaty feet), stress, medication, alcohol and drugs, hormone changes, and poor hygiene.
Foot Hygiene: Proper foot care is actually the natural cure against foot odors because clean feet have minimal bacteria present that can cause them. Wash your feet before you sleep and especially after walking barefoot because this takes away dirt and other organisms responsible for the foul smell.
Foot Powder: This home remedy is commonly used and is very effective. The talcum powder absorbs the perspiration and dries up the moisture in the feet preventing the buildup of odor.
Cotton Socks: A simple home remedy for foot odor is to wear cotton socks. Cotton absorbs more moisture and allows better ventilation of the foot as compared to other materials. It is also advisable to change socks regularly especially when you do a lot of physical activities that make you perspire a lot.
Odor-Fighting Insoles: There are some insoles available in the market today that incorporate activated charcoal and other moisture absorbing material into their insoles to fight foot odor. Activated charcoal, as you may already know, is a natural cure for foul odor.
Shoe Care: Take care of your shoes because they take care of your feet. Washing, cleaning, brushing and drying your shoes are the simplest natural cures available to get rid of foot odor. Occasionally, drying them under the sun can get rid of any bacterial as well as fungal growth inside the shoe. Sunlight is a natural cure for any bacterial or fungal colonization.
Baking Soda: Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is an effective remedy to eliminate foot odor. It neutralizes the pH of sweat and reduces bacteria.
Add baking soda in warm water (one tablespoon for every quart of water) and soak your feet in it for 15 to 20 minutes every night for about one week. You can also sprinkle baking soda in both your shoes and socks before wearing them.
Epsom Salt: Epsom salt can also minimize the smell coming from your feet as it fights microbial infection and neutralizes foot odor. A detoxifying foot bath with Epsom salt is also soothing for aching feet.
Mix two teaspoons of Epsom salt in half a bucket of warm water. Soak your feet in the solution for 10 to 15 minutes. For best results, do this before going to sleep so that you do not have to wear socks or shoes for a few hours.
Black Tea: Black tea has tannic acid that helps kill the bacteria that produce foot odor. It also helps close pores on your feet, thereby reducing the amount of sweat on which the bacteria feed.
Boil two black tea bags in three cups of hot water. Add half a bucket of normal water to lower the temperature of the solution. Soak your feet in it for 15 to 20 minutes. You may do this daily for about a week.
Vinegar: Vinegar is beneficial in getting rid of smelly feet as it creates an acidic environment in which bacteria cannot survive. You can use any type of vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar for this home remedy.
Prepare a mixture of one-half cup of vinegar and six to eight cups of hot water. Soak your feet in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, wash your feet thoroughly with soap to remove the vinegar smell.
Ginger: Ginger is also an effective solution to smelly feet as it inhibits bacterial growth and also removes toxins.
Make a puree out of a medium sized ginger root. Steep the puree in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a coffee filter to strain the solution. Use the smooth liquid to massage your feet gently each night before sleep.