Roughly 16% of people suffer from smelly feet, or bromodosis, if you prefer the medical term. In other words, millions of people of all ages are routinely embarrassed by the bad odors that come from their feet, especially when they take off their shoes and socks.
Foot odor typically happens when bacteria on your feet consume sweat and dead skin cells, releasing smelly chemicals as they multiply. If your feet sweat, you’re more likely to have smelly feet, and you’re also more likely to have athlete’s foot, a fungal infection that can cause a persistent unpleasant odor.
At Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bradenton, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida, our seasoned podiatry team has a lot of experience helping people put an end to embarrassing foot odors, while also improving the overall health of their feet. If you have foot odors you’d like to get rid of, these four tips can help.
1. Soak your feet
Washing your feet daily can help decrease odors and keep your feet healthy. But a quick soap-and-rinse in the shower often isn’t enough for feet that really sweat. To counteract the effects of this common problem, a deep soak often provides better results.
While you can simply soak your feet in a basin of warm, soapy water, adding a little vinegar to the mix can really help your feet stay fresh.
It may not seem logical to beat foot odors with vinegar, given that vinegar also has a rather pungent smell. But vinegar disinfects your feet safely, gently, and naturally, killing off bacteria and making your skin less hospitable to new colonies of bacteria in the future.
Use a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts warm water, and soak your feet in the mixture for about 20 minutes. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar both work equally well. If you just can’t take the smell of vinegar, a half cup of Epson salts dissolved in a basin of warm water is also a good deep-soak choice.
2. Keep your feet dry
Keeping your feet dry is essential for making your skin a less-than-ideal spot for bacteria to set up shop. After every shower, bath, or foot soaking, take some time to thoroughly dry your feet, including the areas between your toes.
For really sweaty feet, consider carrying extra socks with you so you can change into a fresh pair during the day. Choose socks made of natural fibers like cotton or wool, and make sure your shoes allow your feet to breathe, too. When your feet have airflow, they’re less likely to trap moisture and develop the kind of bacterial growth that leads to smelly odors.
3. Air out your shoes
Smelly feet often mean stinky shoes. If your shoes smell even after your feet are out of them, they could be harboring colonies of bacteria.
You can destroy odors and bacteria in a single treatment by lightly spraying your insoles with a household disinfectant, then letting them air out completely for a day. You can also try stuffing your shoes with wadded-up newspaper to get rid of persistent odor (although it won’t do anything to get rid of the bacteria).
Once your shoes are odor-free, try alternating them with another pair of shoes so each pair gets a day to refresh naturally. Powdering your feet each day is another good way to minimize odors once your shoes are fresh.
4. Practice good foot hygiene
Keep your toenails trimmed to eliminate extra areas where bacteria and debris can hide. Look for signs of toenail fungus, which can also cause odors.
After deep-soaking your feet, use a pumice stone to gently remove dead skin. After you dry them thoroughly (including the areas in between your toes), pamper them with powder.
For really stinky feet, medicated foot powder may help. Alternatively, you can try rubbing your feet with clinical strength underarm deodorant. Apply either product to a small area first to be sure it doesn’t irritate the skin on your feet.
See your doctor
If these tips don’t help, it’s probably time to see a member of our team. Our podiatrists are trained to identify the source of foot odors, offering targeted treatments to help each patient enjoy fresher-smelling feet and greater confidence, too.
To learn what’s causing your foot odor, book an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists today. Our top-rated podiatry team can be found at three office locations in Bradenton, University Park, and Ellenton, Florida.