How to get rid of smelly feet and shoes
Fast facts on smelly feet
Here are some quick facts that can help you understand the basics of why smelly feet occur:
- Most of the time the odor is caused by bacteria growing on the foot and by moisture build-up.
- While smelly feet is not an actual medical condition (typically), they can cause self-image issues while also potentially hurting personal relationships.
- Having bacteria on the feet is actually quite normal.
- As the bacteria break down oils on the feet, as well as dead skin cells, the decomposition can lead to a bad odor.
How to get rid of Smelly Shoes
Socks and shoes can actually make your feet smell worse by causing them to sweat. Here are some changes you can make to help deal with the issues:
Wearing shoes with a breathable fabric can help reduce the prevalence of sweating and moisture. Mesh is a highly recommended fabric to look for when buying shoes.
Plastic shoes will likely only increase the incidence of sweaty feet, and therefore will often leave your feet with a pungent odor.
While socks can be a cause for smelly feet, they can often conceal the odor until taken off. Sweat-wicking materials are recommended to mitigate potential sweat build-up.
Another benefit to wearing socks is that they may be changed, so the odor build-up does not occur in your shoes.
Alternating shoes and socks
Allowing your shoes to air out will help reduce the sweat build-up.
Having multiple pairs of shoes to rotate is recommended to allow you to air out one pair for at least a day (and who doesn’t need an excuse for more shoes?)
If this change still isn’t doing enough for you, you may want to consider bringing a second pair of socks with you to change throughout your day.
There are options for antibacterial or odor-reducing insoles available online and in stores that sell similar footwear insoles. These can help by denaturing the sweat and reducing odor.
If you are already using custom orthotics or do not wish to replace the insoles in your shoes, you can buy disinfecting spray that can be used on your normal footwear. The caveat with this is that these sprays are typically less effective than the specially designed insoles.
Home remedies for smelly feet
While changing these footwear habits can be beneficial, you should also aim to improve foot hygiene where applicable. Most of these habits can be altered in the home, and include some of the following:
Exfoliating the feet
As dead skin cells begin to build on the bottom of your feet, you’ll want to try to cleanse them by getting either a scrub or a pumice stone. This will prevent the bacteria on your feet from feasting on these cells, thus preventing the odor of decomposition.
We recommend that those with especially smelly feet use the pumice stone at least 2-3 times a week, as constant use will regulate the amount of dead tissue on your feet.
Epsom salt soaks can be used to exfoliate the skin and generally improve foot health. To properly prepare yourself a soak, fill a bowl or tub with warm water and stir in about a half cup of Epsom salts until dissolved. Place your feet in, throw on some relaxing tunes (optional), and let them soak for about 10-20 minutes. Dry completely with a warm towel.
Like an Epsom soak, fill a container with 2 parts warm water and 1 part vinegar (white vinegar and apple cider are both acceptable), and soak your feet for about the same time (no more than 20 minutes).
Warning: do not attempt a vinegar soak if you have open cuts or sores; it will not be a pleasurable experience, and there will be pain involved.
It may seem odd, but putting antiperspirant on your feet can actually be very effective; antiperspirant does essentially mean “no-sweat”.
If normal antiperspirants aren’t cutting it, you can ask your doctor for a prescription for stronger option catered for your feet. Cornstarch is another option you can try as an alternative.
Medical treatments to Get Rid of Smelly Feet and Shoes
If you are at this point in the article, you may have been shaking your head saying to yourself, “but I’ve tried all of these options, and none of them have worked for me.” If this is the case, surgery may be your next step.
Your other option is botox injections, which injects the botulinum toxin into the bottom of the foot. These are known as plantar injections.
There are a few drawbacks to this treatment however, including but not limited to: pain during the injection, results that are temporary, and necessary subsequent treatments.
These injections can also be useful for reducing underarm sweating.
This is a mild treatment that uses an calm electric current, delivered while soaking your feet in water, to reduce the production of sweat on the feet.
Outlook on Get Rid of Smelly Feet and Shoes
According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, there are about 16% of adults out there who have reported issues with foot odor.
Sudden onset of smelly feet may however be a sign of a potential cut or sore that has been infected, and you should check for signs of these upon noticing an issue. If there are signs of an infection, you should seek medical help as soon as you can, as untreated infections can be extremely dangerous.
You should not have to accept smelly feet, and if any of these options aren’t right for you, there are other prescription options available to you, and you should consult with your doctor about what treatment options are available to you.