We’ve all experienced it – kicking off our shoes at the end of a long day to be greeted by an offensive stench wafting from our feet. Smelly feet can be an embarrassing problem that makes us want to hide our dogs at all costs. But don’t dismay – with the right plan, you can say goodbye to stinky feet forever! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the most effective tips and treatments to banish foot odor for good.
Examine Foot Hygiene Habits
The first step is examining your current foot hygiene routine. Proper hygiene forms the foundation for preventing and treating smelly feet. Make sure to wash your feet daily with antibacterial soap, scrubbing gently between the toes. Be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly, especially between toes where moisture and bacteria accumulate.
Wear moisture-wicking socks made of natural materials like cotton or wool. These will keep your feet dryer than synthetic fabrics. Have a designated set of indoor and outdoor socks, so outdoor pollutants and moisture don’t contaminate your fresh socks. Change your socks at least once a day, or immediately if they become sweaty. Consider boots and shoes made of breathable materials as well, and add a shoe tree when not worn.
Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, can lead to increased moisture and bacteria causing foot odor. Often hyperhidrosis requires prescription-strength antiperspirant or BOTOX injections to control sweating. Discuss heavy sweating with your doctor to explore medical treatments.
In the meantime, extra hygiene measures can help lessen effects of heavy sweating. Use over-the-counter antiperspirant or alum powder on feet nightly. Absorb sweat by changing insoles or adding shoe inserts daily. Bring extra socks to change mid-day if your feet get sweaty.
Check for Infections
Fungal, viral and bacterial infections between the toes or on the soles of feet are common culprits of odor. Infections thrive in the warm, moist environment inside shoes and socks leading to smelly feet.
Watch for symptoms of infection like itching, redness, irritation, peeling skin or discharge. Schedule an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist for appropriate antifungal or antibiotic treatment to clear the infection and eliminate related odors. Keeping feet clean and dry daily will help prevent recurrence.
Exfoliate and Moisturize
Dry, cracked skin on the heels and soles also encourages odor by allowing bacteria deep within skin fissures.
Gently exfoliate skin with a foot scrubber or pumice stone while bathing. Apply a rich moisturizer like petroleum jelly, mineral oil or urea cream daily focusing on calluses and cracked areas. This helps hydrate and heal skin, sealing out moisture and bacteria.
Consider Prescription Medications
Over-the-counter hygiene methods may not resolve very stubborn foot odor cases. Prescription-strength topicals or oral medications could be necessary to successfully treat excessive foot sweating or fungal infections related to smell.
Oral antifungal pills may be prescribed for several weeks for fungal infections not improving with topical treatment. Topical glycopyrrolate pads can be used daily to prevent excessive sweating, drying the skin. Most insurance covers common prescription treatments for foot odor, but speak to your doctor about any out-of-pocket costs.
Try a Vinegar Foot Bath
Using a vinegar foot bath can be an easy at-home remedy for fighting odors. The acidic vinegar inhibits growth of bacteria and helps remove dead skin cells and calluses where bacteria can hide.
Pour one cup of white, apple cider or red wine vinegar into a tub of warm water. Soak feet 15-20 minutes allowing the vinegar solution to work on your skin. Rinse feet in clean water and pat dry thoroughly afterwards, particularly between the toes. Repeat this vinegar soak several times a week to banish odors.
Schedule Professional Treatments
In the most severe, treatment-resistant cases you may need professional intervention. Podiatrists and dermatologists can provide specialized treatments to eliminate foot odor like laser therapies to kill bacteria, chemical peel of the skin or iontophoresis devices to reduce sweating.
Though often expensive and not covered by insurance, these clinic treatments offer hope for permanently resolving foot odor when home treatments fail. Seek medical advice to develop an effective treatment plan if over-the-counter methods are ineffective.
Banish the stink for good
Don’t resign yourself to a life of smelly feet and trying to cover up embarrassing odors. With diligent foot hygiene, treating underlying causes and trying odor-fighting remedies, you can cure foot funk for good. Pay attention to your feet, enlist medical care when needed, and be prepared to put in daily effort. Your nose and those around you will thank you when you successfully banish foul foot odors for the long run. Say goodbye to smell and hello to fresh, healthy feet!