Auteur: Podiatre Montreal
Preventing unpleasant odors and smelly feet
Feet and hands contain more sweat glands than all other parts of the body (about 3000 glands per square foot). Smelly feet can be not only annoying, but also uncomfortable.
Feet smell for two reasons: you wear shoes and your feet sweat. The interaction between perspiration and the bacteria that grow in your shoes and socks generates odors. Therefore, any treatment to reduce foot odor must treat both your perspiration and your shoes.
Smelly feet can also be caused by a hereditary disease called hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, which mainly affects men. Stress, certain medications, water intake and hormonal changes can also increase the level of perspiration produced by your body.
Means of prevention
Smelly feet can usually be treated with a few preventive measures:
- Always wear socks with closed shoes.
- Avoid wearing nylon socks or plastic shoes. Instead, wear shoes made of leather, canvas, mesh or other materials that allow your foot to breathe.
- Wash your feet daily in warm water with mild soap. Dry them well.
- Change your socks and shoes at least once a day.
- Check for fungal infections between the toes and on the plantar surface. If you notice redness or dry patches on the skin, get treatment immediately.
- Do not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. If you often wear sports shoes, alternate pairs to allow your shoes to dry for at least 24 hours. If the smell doesn’t go away, discard the shoes.
- Talc your feet often with a non-medicated baby powder or foot powder. Applying an antibacterial ointment may also help. Practice good foot hygiene to reduce bacteria.
- Wear thick, soft socks to remove moisture from feet. Cotton and all other absorbent materials are preferred.
These measures can also help prevent athlete’s foot, which can develop in this same environment. However, athlete’s foot disease cannot be relieved by an antibacterial agent because it is caused by a fungal infection. Use an anti-fungal powder and good foot hygiene to treat this infection.
Treatment of malodorous feet
The persistence of malodorous feet may indicate a mild infection or be synonymous with a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, we can prescribe a special ointment. You will apply it to your feet at bedtime and then wrap your feet with an impermeable covering, such as kitchen plastic wrap.
Soaking your feet in strong black tea for 30 minutes a day for a week may also help. The acid in the tea kills bacteria and closes pores, keeping your feet dry longer. Use two bags of tea per liter of water. Boil for 15 minutes and then add two liters of fresh water. Soak your feet in the cold solution. You can also soak your feet in a solution of vinegar and water.
A form of electrolysis called iontophoresis can also reduce excessive sweating of the feet, but it is more difficult to administer. In the most severe cases of hyperhidrosis, the surgeon may cut the nerve that controls perspiration. Recent advances in technology have contributed to the development of this type of procedure, however, afterwards, you may experience sweating in other parts of your body.2021