Dealing With Peeling Skin and Odor Between the Toes

It’s common to experience peeling, flaky skin between the toes. This can often lead to a foul odor as well. While it may seem embarrassing, peeling skin and bad smells between the toes is usually easily treatable at home. Here’s what you need to know.

What Causes Peeling and Odor?

A common cause of peeling, flaking skin between the toes is a fungal infection called athlete’s foot. Fungi thrive in the warm, moist environment between the toes. As they multiply, the skin can become red, itchy, and start to peel. The peeling skin cells can create an unpleasant odor.

Another cause of peeling and odor is excessive sweating. When sweat accumulates between the toes, it creates an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply. The bacteria break down the sweat, producing unpleasant odors. This is often called bromhidrosis.

Simple Home Treatments

If you’re experiencing peeling skin and odor between the toes, there are some simple home treatments to try.

Keep feet clean and dry. Wash your feet daily with soap and water, dry thoroughly, especially between the toes. This removes bacteria and sweat buildup. Change socks regularly to keep feet dry.

Use antifungal powder. Dusting antifungal powder, like Lotrimin, between toes helps keep the area dry and fight fungal infection.

Apply antifungal cream. Over-the-counter antifungal creams containing clotrimazole or miconazole can clear up athlete’s foot. Apply twice daily for 2-4 weeks until skin is healed.

Soak feet in vinegar. A vinegar foot soak can help restore skin’s natural pH levels and combat fungus. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water and soak feet 10-15 minutes daily.

Use antiperspirant. Applying antiperspirant or deodorant between toes can help control sweating and odor. Look for one containing aluminum chloride.

Try absorbent padding. Placing cotton balls, Kleenex tissue, or sweat absorption pads between toes will help keep the area dry.

When to See a Doctor

Home treatments are often effective for between-toe peeling and odor. However, see your doctor if symptoms persist more than 2 weeks or keep recurring. A prescription antifungal or antibiotic medication may be needed.

Also see a doctor if you have additional symptoms like nail changes, pus, swollen toes or skin ulcers. This could indicate a bacterial infection or more serious fungal infection that requires medical treatment.

Prevent Recurrence

Once you’ve cleared up the peeling skin and odor between toes, take steps to prevent it from recurring:

  • Wear breathable socks and shoes, avoid tight hosiery
  • Alternate shoes daily to allow them to fully dry
  • Disinfect shoes and socks regularly
  • Apply antifungal powder weekly as prevention
  • Keep toenails trimmed short
  • Get any chronic conditions like diabetes under control

With proper hygiene and care, peeling skin and odor between the toes can usually be remedied. But if basic home treatments don’t seem to help within two weeks, contact your doctor for personalized treatment advice. Consistent prevention methods can help stop the problem from returning.