What You Should Know About Foot Odor
Picture this scene: You arrive at a friend’s home for a visit, say hello, and start your visit by slipping off your shoes only to be hit with a wave of smell that would make a billy goat turn purple. What do you do next? Turn and leave? Put your shoes back on?
Foot odor is sure to cause embarrassment if discovered by others. Though it is a fairly simple personal hygiene issue to remedy, it can be a lingering dilemma. The cause of this malodorous aroma is foot perspiration, also known as focal hyperhidrosis. When sweating occurs on the feet, it creates an environment for bacteria to grow. Certain bacteria creates the bad aroma. Now lets get to the bottom of this issue so we can fix it.
This is one of the main reasons for foot odor. It comes from the eccrine glands in a person’s body. Sweat is watery and evaporates rather quickly. Sweat does not usually cause an odor. It’s important to understand that the body has around 5 million sweat glands. Approximately half a million of these sweat glands can be found in your feet.
The feet have a higher concentration of sweat glands when compared to the rest of the body. Some researchers believe the reason for this can be found eons ago when people always walked around barefoot. A person’s feet at that time got hotter and required more sweat glands to maintain a comfortable temperature. The sweat on their bare feet easily evaporated and kept the feet supple, flexible and cool.
Wearing socks does not automatically cause foot odor. When they are worn with shoes, the air on the feet will be trapped. This causes an increased area where bacteria can grow. The composition of socks will influence foot odor as well.
Nylon and polyester material decrease ventilation when compared to wool or cotton. Wearing nylon and polyester socks increases perspiration. This can increase foot odor. Cotton has natural antibacterial properties, which helps prevent foot odor. Some synthetic socks are treated with chemicals designed to decrease odor. Experts recommend people remove their shoes and socks when their feet feel hot. This will permit the sweat to evaporate and help reduce odor.
The inside of a person’s shoes are not usually washed. When people wear closed-toe shoes without socks, the amount of sweat within the shoes increases dramatically. Closed-toe shoes do not provide a person’s feet with proper ventilation encouraging the growth of bacteria. This is especially true in the toe box of the shoe.
This is the part of the foot where the greatest amount of sweat is produced. With closed-toe shoes, it is not possible for the sweat to evaporate. Foots oils and dead skin cells begin to accumulate. Yes, disgusting Toe Jam! This will cause foot odor as well as an unpleasant aroma in the shoes.
There are a number of natural foot odor remedies available. Soaking the feet for up to 30 minutes a day in a mixture of water and black tea is effective. The tannic acid found in the black tea is able to kill bacteria on the feet. It can also shrink the pores which will result in decreased foot sweating.
Other people have had success soaking their feet in a solution of vinegar, thyme oil, and warm water. The oil has effective antiseptic properties which can eliminate bacteria. Soaking with this solution should only be done for 20 minutes a day for a week at a time. This should not be done if a person has any open sores or broken skin. A good natural foot powder which is effective consists of cornstarch and baking soda. The baking soda will eliminate the odor, and the cornstarch will absorb the moisture.
Foot Odor Prevention
It’s important to wash your feet daily with an antibacterial or deodorant soap. If a person has a history of developing nail fungus or athlete’s foot, they should keep the feet as dry as possible. They may want to consider blow-drying their feet with a hair dryer and maybe sprinkle a little foot powder on or in their socks. It’s also important to change socks and put on a clean pair at least once a day.
A person should also alternate between two or more pairs of shoes. If it’s possible to wash a pair of shoes, it should be done regularly. Shoes need to be kept in an area that is well ventilated. Using odor absorbing insoles and regularly replacing them is also effective in preventing foot odor.
Foods Which Increase Foot Odor
Research has shown that a number of foods containing sulfites will produce an unpleasant smell when released by the body as sweat. Coffee, beer, and tea are some known to contain high levels of sulfites. Certain vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, onion and garlic can produce unwanted odors if consumed to excess.
There are also foods that increase a body’s production of sweat. This includes foods with a lot of spice as well as foods that have a high temperature. Another food that seems to increase food odors are refined carbs. This includes everything from white rice to pasta, pastries and more. Podiatrists warn that a diet with high amounts of carbohydrates can help sustain the fungus and bacteria found on a person’s feet.
Foods Which Decrease Foot Odor
There are certain nutrients a person can include in their diet which can help decrease foot odor. Foods that have high amounts of fiber like green, leafy vegetables as well as fruit help flush out a person’s system and eliminate toxins. When a person eats citrus fruits and kale, they will have a much more pleasant body odor.
Vegetables that have high amounts of chlorophyll can also remove toxins. This includes kelp, seaweed, sprouts and other leafy greens. Wild edibles such as watercress and chickweed have high amounts of chlorophyll. Herbs such as sage can help a body decrease sweating. A lack of zinc can cause a person’s feet to smell bad. It is recommended men consume about 11 grams of zinc per day, and women at least 8 grams. There are many good supplements on the market today.
Foot Health Tips
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has recommendations for people who want to avoid foot odor and maintain healthy feet. Here are some tips which may help if you’re struggling with foot odor.
- Inspect your feet regularly. Peeling or scaling on the soles of the feet may be signs of athlete’s foot developing.
- Be sure your shoes fit properly and are the right shoes for the job.
- Toenails should be trimmed regularly, but not too short. Thick or yellowing nails may indicate a nail fungus.
- Avoid going barefoot, which makes the feet more vulnerable to injury and increases the risk of picking up a wart virus.
- If wearing sandals, use a sunblock on the feet and rinse your sandals or flip flops off regularly.
Here’s to Foot Health
Stinky feet, nobody wants them around, especially when there are so many quick, simple steps you can take to eliminate the problem. A little common sense and prevention and you can banish stinky feet from your life forever.