Foot odor can be an embarrassing problem, but it doesn’t have to be your problem. There are plenty of ways to fight foot odor, so that you can kick your shoes off without worry.
Foot odor is usually caused by moisture or sweat getting trapped around your feet. According to Discovery Health, a half a million of your body’s 2 to 5 million sweat glands are located in your feet. Scientists think that this high concentration of sweat glands originally developed to protect feet from constant contact with the ground, before people wore shoes. On bare feet, sweat evaporates away. When you wear socks and shoes, however, the sweat can get trapped and create a breeding ground for Brevibacterium linens, a bacterium that lives on your feet, eating your dead skin cells. Brevibacterium linens thrive in moist environments like sweaty socks. When the bacteria digest your skin cells, it releases a gas that has the odor commonly associated with smelly feet.
Have foot odor? There are two main ways to tackle the pesky problem: stop the odor-causing bacteria or stop the sweat itself.
Stop Foot Odor
Prevent the buildup of moisture that can create a breeding ground for bacteria by rotating your shoes and always wearing clean socks. Cotton socks can absorb moisture, making sweat problems worse while moisture-wicking socks can help control excess sweat. Wear sandals or go barefoot when you’re at home.
There are also foot odor solutions such as topical creams and deodorants you can apply to help control foot odor during the day. Apply a lavilin cream or shoe disinfectant before you put on your shoes and socks to prevent odor.
In your downtime, relax your feet with a soak that multi-tasks to fight the bacteria that causes foot odor. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant (yes, vinegar!) that can also help soften your feet. For thirty minutes a couple times a week, soak your feet in a foot tub or large bowl filled with ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar and 5 cups of warm water.
Similarly, baking soda can work both as a soak and to fight odor in your shoes. Sprinkle baking soda in your shoes and socks before putting them on to help absorb moisture and fight bacteria. At home, soak your feet nightly in a solution of warm water and baking soda.
A less common natural odor fighter is black tea. Boil two black teabags in a bowl of hot water. Bring the temperature down by adding lukewarm water to fill your foot tub. The tannic acid in black tea helps to fight bacteria. It also works to close the pores, minimizing foot perspiration.
Stop Sweaty Feet
If your foot odor is caused by sweat, fighting the odor involves treating the wetness. Cut the problem off at the source by minimizing foot perspiration. Use shoe inserts to absorb sweat or add a dusting of talcum powder to your shoes and socks before putting them on. Just like with your armpits, you can use antiperspirants or sweat shields on your feet. If over the counter antiperspirants don’t work, consider seeing your podiatrist or dermatologist for a clinical strength solution.