What’s that Smell?! – Causes and Treatments for Foot Odor

It’s pretty safe to say that nobody cares too much for a smelly foot. What’s a mom to do when her teenager comes home, whips off their shoes, and the molecules of death hit the air? What can a caring spouse say when she opens the master bedroom closet and is assaulted by her beloved’s perfume, Eau de Worn Nike?

Control the odor

The first step in controlling foot odor is figuring out why it’s happening in the first place. Here are the typical causes of smelly feet and what you can do about them:

  • 250,000 sweat glands. You read that correctly – two hundred fifty thousand sweat glands populate your two feet, so it’s no wonder they’re sweating all the time. Sweat mingles with the bacteria that are ever-present on your skin and in your shoes, causing the nasty aroma.
  • Socks that don’t wick. Socks that are good at wicking away the product of your many sweat glands are made of synthetic blends or natural or acrylic fibers. 100% cotton will absorb moisture but won’t keep it away from your skin.
  • No socks at all. Be sure to wear socks when you’re wearing a closed-toe shoe. Socks will help absorb sweat much better than shoes alone.
  • Feet that can’t breathe. Your feet can suffocate when encased in plastic or nylon. Let some air circulate with better choices of shoe material such as leather, canvas, and mesh.
  • Socks and shoes that never part from you. Change your socks at least once a day, never wearing them the next day if you haven’t washed them. Mix up the shoes you wear, avoiding wearing the same pair two days in a row.
  • Feet that don’t bathe. It’s important to wash the sweat off your feet every day with warm, soapy water. Be sure to rinse and dry well, including between your toes. You can also apply powder to help absorb any excess moisture.

When you can’t control it

There is such a thing as feet that sweat too much. If you’ve taken the steps above and you still can’t seem to ditch the stench, it may be time to call Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, VA. We have a number of treatment options including prescription antiperspirants and iontophoresis, a method of blocking sweat from getting to your skin’s surface that we perform right here in our office. Make an appointment with us online or give us a call at (703) 996-3000.

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