How to Get Rid of Foot Odor
Are you suffering from a raging case of stinky feet?
Do people wince when you walk by?
Do your dogs avoid playing with your shoes?
Here are some suggestions that may help tame that fearsome foot odor.
1- Wash your feet. Sure, it sounds obvious, but it's easy to think just going into the shower is enough. The objective here is to get rid of any bacteria, and any dead skin cells that bacteria like to feed on. So when you wash your feet, don't assume that a quick rub with soapy water is enough; exfoliate the entire surface of your foot with a washcloth, brush, or any other abrasive mechanism and use anti-bacterial soap. Don't forget to scrub between your toes, either. When you dry your feet, dry them completely. Moisture--whether it's water or sweat--is what creates a fertile breeding ground for bacteria, so take the time to dry your feet thoroughly (again, don't neglect the space between your toes).
2- Use Hand Sanitizer It may sound weird, but a good scented (or unscented) hand sanitizer can kill germs on your feet and inhibit bacterial growth.
3- Change your socks daily with laundered ones. Colored socks seem to be more prone to bacteria, and the resulting smell, than white socks.
When you wash your socks, turn them inside out in the washer so the dead flakes of skin have a better chance of being washed away.
When you do need to wear socks, go for absorbent ones made of cotton or wool. Non-absorbent socks (like nylon) trap moisture around your foot, making a cozy little nook for bacteria. If possible, change your socks more than once a day, and never, ever wear a pair of socks more than once without washing them. Unless using open shoes you should always wear socks, try two pair of socks to help with the wicking of moisture away from the foot.
Lightly Powder shoes and socks daily with baking soda, dust out yesterdays baking soda before adding it fresh
Wash your feet at least once a day.
If you're in a pinch, you can scrub your feet with an anti-bacterial wipe or a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
Clipping and brushing your toe nails will probably help, too.
4- Soak your feet. Believe it or not, your feet can produce a whopping half liter (over 2 cups!) of sweat in one day. So how will soaking help? Some solutions will actually dry out your feet, and others will make the surface of your feet inhospitable to bacteria. Here are some concoctions:
Bleach- 5 to 10 minutes a day for a week. Add about two tablespoons (1 ounce) of bleach to a gallon of warm water. If you find this soak to be drying to your skin, perhaps you may apply a little baby oil. You will notice that the odor is diminished or gone in one day. Bleach kills bacteria. Bleach your white socks too in the laundry. If your shoes can withstand it, add the same solution to the insides of your shoes, soak them down. Wait 1/2 hour and then just rinse them out in the sink. Dry them thoroughly before wearing them again.
Tea - 30 minutes a day for a week. The tannic acid in the tea will dry out your skin.
Salt water - Half a cup of kosher salt for every quart of water. After soaking, don't rinse, just dry thoroughly
Aluminum acetate - Dries out your feet. Mix 1 packet Domeboro powder or 2 tablespoons Burow's Solution (both available over-the-counter) in 1 pint of water. Soak for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
Sodium bicarbonate - Makes skin more alkaline, which inhibits bacterial growth. 1 tablespoon baking soda for every quart of water.
Vinegar - Makes skin more acidic. 1/2 cup vinegar for every 1 quart of wate Keep in mind that some people's foot odor can be described as "vinegary" so if this is you, this soak might make things worse.
o The quick (no soaking) method with no extra water: keep a mixture of 1/2 regular vinegar (already 95% water) and 1/2 isopropyl alcohol ("rubbing-alcohol") and dribble this daily (use a medicine dropper) over and between your toes and irritated skin on the feet and spread it. Both products are harmless to your skin, but the vinegar kills fungus and the alcohol inhibits or kills bacteria (also helps get rid of toe fungus on contact.).
5- Rotate your shoes. Let your shoes dry out completely so that bacteria don't set up camp in there. It takes at least 24 hours for a shoe to dry out completely (that may seem like a long time, but remember that you can put down four cups of sweat in one day, and that isn't going to evaporate quickly). Take out the insoles to help the drying process along. Otherwise, wearing the same pair day after day is a recipe for stinkfoot. Crumpled newspaper inside wet shoes will dry them overnight.
Wear sandals or open-toe shoes so your feet stay cool and you don't produce as much sweat; and when you do, it evaporates due to air circulation. if you can't wear sandals, go for leather or canvas shoes, which allow your feet to "breathe" (and steer clear of rubber and plastic shoes).
Wash your shoes regularly. Many shoes can be thrown in the washing machine. Just make sure they dry thoroughly before you put them on.
Put special cedarsoles in your shoes. The cedar wood reduces sweat and odor very effective.
6- Put antiperspirant on your feet. Yup, that's right, take that stick of antiperspirant and rub it on your feet. (Sprays will work as well.) Make sure it's antiperspirant, though, not deodorant--deodorant just covers up smells. Antiperspirant actually reacts with the electrolytes in sweat to form "gel plugs" that block off your sweat ducts. Since each one of your feet has over 250,000 sweat glands (more sweat glands per inch than any other part of your body) a little antiperspirant can go a long way.
7- Rub your feet (between the toes too!) with one or more of the following powders (but not too much, or it might form into annoying clumps). This is what most foot powders and sprays contain to combat foot odor:
talcum powder - it's an astringent, so it'll dry out your feet
baking soda - creates an alkaline environment that's not bacteria-friendly
corn starch - absorbs sweat
8- Remove your shoes Whenever you are able to take a break, remove your shoes. This helps the shoes and your feet stay drier.
9- Use a shoe dryer There are several great, low-wattage shoe and boot dryers that use convection air currents to slowly and completely dry wet, sweaty shoes. Place your footwear on them at the end of the day or workout and put on dry, warm and comfortable shoes about eight hours later. Dryers eliminate the moisture that odor-causing bacteria need to grow and help your shoes to last longer.
· Make sure you are getting the USDA recommended daily allowance (RDA) of zinc. Yup, that's right, a zinc deficiency can lead to foot odor, as well as general body odor AND bad breath! So, make sure zinc is included in your multi vitamin, or get a separate zinc supplement.
· Stress can stimulate sweating. That's why you might notice that your life and your feet stink at the same time.
· Lightly Powder shoes and socks with fresh baking soda daily - guaranteed to eliminate the stinkiest foot and shoe odor, and is a simple and economical solution.
· Try a natural deodorant that is crystal based. These sprays work by making the skin inhospitable for bacteria (web search for crystal foot deodorant).
· Do not walk with only your socks on. They pick up lots of bacteria this way. Then, when you put your shoes back on, the bacteria population explodes in the moist, warm environment.
Consult with your Podiatrist or Physician if you have diabetes, peripheral vacular disease(PVD), peripheral artery disease(PAD), peripheral neuropathy, or peripheral edema (i.e. venous insufficiency). The soaking treatments descrbed may be ill advised and needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Play it safe and consult with your Podiatrist or Physician. Also do not use bleach when soaking for any reason. Do not use abrasive products as well with any of the above mentioned pathologies.
Foot odor is just that...foot odor. If there are any other symptoms, it could be athlete's foot or ringworm or an infection. Get it checked out by a doctor. Look out for:
· recurring blisters
· persistent dry, flaky skin
· skin cancer
Talc, a common additive in foot powders, can cause lung damage if inhaled often.
· Use foot powders that are mostly made of cornstarch or other non-talc ingredients.
· Powder your shoes outside, where there is good ventilation, e.g., on the porch
· Shake the foot powder container directly into your shoes, and gently, to avoid producing a cloud of foot powder.
· Avoid shaking up foot powder in your bedroom or car, to reduce chances of inhalation.
· Note that there have been recent headlines on the use of talc to treat cancers of the lung lining, but this is a very specific medical treatment placing talcum powder through a hole in the chest wall. INHALING TALC remains unhealthy.
Never dry your shoes with a hair dryer, in an oven, or in the rear window of a hot vehicle. Excessive heat ruins leather, loosens glue, and melts plastic. Shoes should be dried slowly and gently to retain shape, suppleness, and strength.
If you wash your feet while in the shower be careful because your feet will be more slippery with soap on them.
Bleach is bad for you. Bleach manufacturers DO NOT recommend using it as described above.