If embarrassing foot odor has stopped you in your tracks, follow these tips to get rid of stinky feet and have them back to smelling fresh in no time.
Foot odor — called bromodosis in the medical world — can easily have you turning green and feeling blue, but luckily it’s a common condition that is fairly easy to control. All it takes is a little knowledge about what causes smelly feet and then you can get rid of stinky feet for good.
Why Do My Feet Stink?Believe it or not, there are more sweat glands found on the human foot than any other place on the body. This means that pretty much every single human being experiences foot sweat. However, the sweat is actually odorless: the stink comes when bacteria are given a chance to thrive in the warm, wet conditions. Therefore, the best way to reduce the odor is to reduce the sweat that the bacteria love to eat.
There are a number of reasons why some people have sweatier feet than others. They include hormones (which is why teenagers and pregnant women often have sweatier feet than most), stress, wearing shoes made of non-breathable material and frequently wearing shoes without giving them a chance to fully air out. Certain medical conditions like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating of the feet) and fungal infections like Athlete’s foot can also create extra sweat and odor.
How Do I Tackle a Stinky Feet Problem?You must focus on two areas to permanently get rid of stinky feet: your feet and your shoes. There are a number of home remedies to remove and prevent odor from both your feet and from your kicks. The most important include improving personal hygiene and rotating your shoes.
- Switch Your Shoes: One of the number one causes of foot odor is not giving your shoes enough time to completely dry out before wearing them again, so the most important thing you can do to eliminate foot odor is to rotate your shoes on a daily basis so that you never wear the same pair two days in a row. It also helps to choose footwear made out of comfortable, breathable material and to store shoes in the open rather than shut away in a closet so they’re able to get plenty of airflow.
- Keep Your Feet Clean: It’s important to thoroughly clean your feet daily and make sure they’re completely dry afterward. Try using an antibacterial soap like Hibiscrub to kill bacteria and keep it from coming back and a pumice stone to eliminate dead skin that bacteria can thrive on.
- Sock It To ‘Em: Cotton soaks are a much better bet than nylon socks because they allow your feet to breath. But if you truly want to control foot sweat and odor, it’s actually recommended that you avoid cotton socks (which can become sodden and smelly) and instead wear specially designed socks made out of moisture wicking material, such as merino wool. Odor control socks are also a good solution.
- Powder Power: Another way to keep your feet and shoes dry is by using moisture-absorbing powder. Simply sprinkle cornstarch, talcum powder, baby powder or specially formulated foot powders into your shoes and onto your feet daily to keep them dry and smell-free.
- Use Antiperspirant: Just as antiperspirant and deodorant can help to keep your underarms dry and odor free, they can keep your feet dry and odor free, as well.
- Try Odor Eliminating Insoles: If your foot odor persists, you can try using special shoe insoles which are a natural, antibacterial product meant to help control odors and conditions like Athlete’s foot. Check out
- Soak Your Feet: There are a number of foot soaks that work wonders on smelly feet by acting as an astringent, drawing away moisture, killing bacteria and reducing pore size. For a list of salt, vinegar, baking soda, tea and other soaks that are effective in eliminating foot odor, check out this article.
- Go Barefoot: Give your feet a chance to breath as often as possible by going barefoot at home, but be careful not to injure your feet!
When to See a DoctorMost cases of bromodosis can easily be cleared up at home, but stubborn cases could signify other medical problems like fungal infections and hyperhidrosis, which is when the feet sweat excessively. When in doubt about what’s causing your foot odor, it’s always best to visit your podiatrist or health care practitioner.
What Causes Sweaty Feet?
Sweating is an essential part of our body’s cooling system. To regulate body temperature, the body releases excess heat via sweat glands in the form of sweat. Our feet are not exempt from this process.
In fact, our feet have more sweat glands per inch than any other part of the body. That’s over 250,000 sweat glands on just your feet. The feet alone will produce roughly half a pint of sweat daily.
So, even if you don’t have an extreme sweating problem, you’ll likely still sweat quite a bit on your feet.
But there are things that can cause more-than-normal sweating on your feet. Your genes, for example, could be the main reason you sweat more than normal (thanks a lot mom and dad).
Your shoes, socks, diet, and emotional stress levels can also dictate how much your feet sweat.
One thing to note is that sweat glands on the soles of your feet respond mostly to your emotions. So people who are prone to anxiety, get nervous easily or have a lot of emotional stress are more likely to have sweaty feet.
For some people, foot sweat flows in niagra-like proportions. For others, sweating is unpredictable and happens regardless of physical activity or temperature. This type of extreme sweating is called Plantar Hyperhidrosis (or excessive foot sweating).
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hyperhidrosis is abnormally excessive sweating that’s not necessarily related to heat or exercise.”
The most common types of hyperhidrosis are:
- Craniofacial Hyperhidrosis (Head and Face Sweating)
- Axillary Hyperhidrosis (Sweaty Armpits)
- Palmar Hyperhidrosis (Sweaty Palms & Hands)
- Plantar Hyperhidrosis (Sweaty Feet)
Think you might have plantar hyperhidrosis? Consult with your doctor about possible causes and best treatment options. Hyperhidrosis could be a side effect of certain medications or a symptom of more serious health conditions (i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart failure)