You come back from a run and take your sneakers off, only to be met by a less-than-desirable odor. What’s that, you think? It can’t be MY feet. After all, I clean them every day. But if you’ve been sweating while you run or are wearing the same shoes as yesterday, that whiff you caught as you slipped off your shoes could very well be coming from your tootsies or the shoes you just took off.
Bromodosis, the very scientific-sounding name for foot odor, can be caused by a number of things. But most often that stench you’re greeted with when you take off your shoes is due to the fact that when your feet sweat, that moisture and warmth create the perfect environment for bacteria. And as that bacteria break down your sweat and dead skin cells, voila! You’ve got a case of stinky feet.
Your feet have more sweat glands than anywhere else on your body. And that adds up to lots of opportunity for bacteria on the skin to break down sweat and make your feet smell. But here are 6 things you can do to avoid stinky feet.
Socks. Wear socks that wick moisture away from your skin and change your socks often. Weather it’s hot or cold outside, your feet can sweat inside your socks so always choose a breathable fabric, such as merino wool or a synthetic blend. Once you get inside and remove your shoes, take your socks off if foot odor is a problem. If your feet are cold and you need them covered indoors, grab a fresh dry pair of socks – don’t keep the damp ones on your feet.
Shoes. If possible, give your shoes a chance to air out between wearings so they don’t stay warm and moist. Shoes that are made of breathable fabric also help ward off foot odor. If you have to wear the same shoes day after day, take extra care to keep your shoes as dry as possible. You can remove some of the moisture in shoes by sprinkling with corn starch. You can also spray the inside of shoes with a sanitizing cleaning product like Lysol to kill the bacteria causing the stink.
Hygiene. Good personal hygiene is important to avoid smelly feet. Wash and dry feet thoroughly each day, especially between your toes. You can occasionally use an antibacterial foot scrub, but avoid using if you have any open wounds or broken skin on your feet.
Antiperspirant. Yes, the same antiperspirant you use to ward away odor under your armpits due to sweating can help prevent foot odor due to sweaty feet. Of course, you probably don’t want to use the same stick antiperspirant on your feet as you do under your armpits so splurge and buy your feet their very own stick or use a spray antiperspirant.
Athlete’s foot. In addition to redness and itchiness, this fungus can cause your feet to smell. However, using antifungal creams can leave a moist environment, which can lead to even more foot odor. So to prevent smelly feet, opt for an antifungal powder to use between toes.
Stress. You may be wondering what stress has to do with smelly feet, but when you’re stressed, you tend to sweat more – and stress-induced sweat leads to even smellier feet that heat-induced sweat. If you find yourself in stressful situations often, such as at work, keep some extra socks on hand to change into whenever you start feeling stressed and sweaty.