Cold hands, warm heart, stinky feet, no sweetheart! We’ve all heard the refrain and smelled some seriously stinky feet. So, what causes the odor?
Bacteria are the smell makers. They normally inhabit the feet and love dark, damp places like sweaty shoes. Bacteria eat dead skin cells and oils from skin and then they get rid of waste in the form of organic acids. It’s the organic acids that create the stinky odor. As the colonies of bacteria grow and eliminate larger amounts of organic acids, the odor grows stronger.
Get this: 10 to 15 percent of people have unusually stinky feet. These folks have extra sweaty feet and are perfect hosts for another type of bacteria called Micrococcus Sedentarius. These bacteria create the organic acids, and they also produce volatile sulfur compounds. If you’ve ever smelled a rotten egg, you know what volatile sulfur compounds smell like.
It may be impossible to completely eliminate odor, but if you cut down on sweat, you’ll be able to decrease the odor.
- Wash your feet every day. Consider using an antibacterial soap. A tub of water may be better than just letting the shower water splash on them. Dry your feet thoroughly when you’re done.
- Wear socks. Cotton, some wools and special knits made for athletes absorb sweat and allow feet to breathe. Change the socks if they get damp.
- Avoid tight shoes. Feet tend to sweat more in tight shoes.
- Switch shoes. Do this frequently to let perspiration dry out for a couple of days. Setting shoes out in the sun may help.
- Kill the germs. Use a disinfectant spray to kill bacteria that linger in the shoes.
- Wash shoes and insoles. Some tennis shoes and insoles are washable so take advantage of this great way to get rid of odors. Be certain to completely dry the shoes before wearing them again.
- Avoid plastic shoes. Plastic and some man-made materials don’t let your feet breathe.
- Go barefoot. Let your feet air out.
Clean, dry feet are the best way to avoid feeding the odor causing bacteria. For most people, foot odor can be controlled. If the odor is uncontrolled after trying the above suggestions, talk with your physician to explore additional options.