Here’s a scenario: you’re in a room with friends or family, and all of a sudden, you notice someone’s feet aren’t smelling too fresh. Could it be you? And if yes, what could be causing this? While foot odour can be an embarrassing revelation, you can tackle smelly feet by paying attention to your foot hygiene. And if your foot odour presents a more complex challenge, there are additional measures you can take to address the issue.
Causes of Smelly Feet
Most of the time, foot odour is the result of forgetting foot hygiene and keeping your feet cooped up in socks and shoes all day while working, exercising or walking for long periods. This will lead to a build up of sweat and bacteria.
This is actually good news, because it means you can take steps towards preventing foot odour without additional treatments. That said, in some cases, foot odour is more perplexing, and may be connected to the following conditions or risk factors:
- Fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Bacteria can feed on the dry, flaky skin that accumulates, producing a pungent smell.
- Plantar hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). This is when your sweat glands produce more sweat than average.
- Diabetes (festering foot ulcers may cause foot odour).
- Risk factors like being overweight can cause you to sweat more than average. Additionally, eating a high-carb diet can exacerbate fungal and bacterial growth.
Lastly, the strength of the odour may be a sign of the cause. For example, the “typical foot odour smell” tends to be vinegar-like, sour, or smell slightly like stinky cheese. Foot fungus can be similar, but it may be much more pungent. Wound odour (like from a severe diabetic ulcer) can be more distinct and indescribable.
Remedies for Foot Odour
Let’s be honest, it’s unlikely that your feel will smell like a bouquet of roses 24/7 (although sometimes they will after a nice self-care session!). But what you can do is limit foot odour and prevent your feet from omitting a strong smell.
There are countless ways you can fight foot odour, including:
- Studies show that antimicrobial essential oils can fight smelly feet. Many hygienic foot products are made with antimicrobial agents.
- Use foot deodorants, specifically from medicinal brands like Gehwol. They typically come in various forms, including sprays and powders, and they work by absorbing excess moisture on the feet and neutralizing odour, leaving your feet smelling and feeling fresh.
- Try moisture wicking socks, and change your socks a couple of times during the day.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water, and don’t ignore your feet while you shower. Take foot cleanliness to the next level by trying a foot soak product in a foot bath.
- Make sure your feet are perfectly dry after washing and before putting on socks and shoes, especially in between the toes. Bacteria often thrive in moist environments.
- Wear breathable running shoes while exercising. Many shoes have uppers with perforated material that let fresh air in and out, promoting a healthy foot environment.
- Moisturize your feet daily.
- To prevent fungal nail infections that lead to unpleasant foot odour, attend regular medical pedicure treatments. These will keep your nails clean and properly trimmed. Foot clinics are also safer than cosmetic nail salons when it comes to avoiding contagious foot fungus.
- If you are diabetic, make sure you attend regular diabetic foot care appointments.
If your foot odour is caused by a fungal infection, you will need to treat it with the appropriate anti-fungal medicines (ointments, pills, etc). Keep in mind that if your foot odour is linked to a condition you should also make an appointment with a chiropodist to confirm the best treatment method.