Having stinky feet can be an embarrassing and confidence-damaging issue. The smell is often hard to conceal and can make you dread taking your shoes off in front of others. Fortunately, with the right foot hygiene regimen, anyone can learn how to get rid of stinky feet for good. This article outlines the underlying causes of smelly feet and provides useful tips and solutions to eliminate foot odor permanently.
What Causes Stinky Feet?
When your feet start to smell unpleasant, the likely culprit is bacteria. Our feet contain more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of the body. When feet sweat, which is perfectly normal and healthy, the moisture gets trapped against the skin by socks and shoes. This warm, damp environment encourages bacteria to thrive.
As the bacteria rapidly multiply, they start to break down sweat into acids. These acids produce the unpleasant smells we associate with unpleasant foot odor. Certain feet are more prone to sweating and developing bacteria than others due to genetic factors. However, with diligent hygiene, even the sweatiest feet can be odor-free.
Tips to Get Rid of Smelly Feet
Practice Proper Hygiene
The first step is thoroughly washing and drying your feet daily. Use a mild antibacterial soap and wash between the toes where moisture and bacteria tend to accumulate. After washing, dry feet carefully, especially between the toes. Remaining dampness encourages bacterial overgrowth.
Foot soaks are an easy way to clean feet, kill bacteria and soften calluses. Combine a basin of warm water with antifungal ingredients like apple cider vinegar, black tea, sage or essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree. Soak feet for 15-20 minutes daily to reduce foot odor.
Gently sloughing off dead skin cells keeps feet fresh. Use a foot scrub or pumice stone to exfoliate while soaking feet to remove calluses and cleared clogged pores that can cause odor.
Wear Moisture-Wicking Socks
Wear socks made from moisture-wicking fabrics like wool, bamboo rayon, polyester, and spandex blends. These fabrics draw sweat away from feet to keep them dry and discourage bacterial growth. Change into a fresh pair halfway through the day if your feet are excessively sweaty.
Use Antiperspirant Spray
Applying an over-the-counter antiperspirant spray to clean feet and shoes can curb sweating and odor. Look for aluminum chloride as the active ingredient. Reapply daily, especially before exercising when sweat production increases.
Give your shoes at least 24 hours to fully dry out before wearing again. Rotate between different pairs to allow them to air out and reduce odor-causing moisture and bacteria buildup.
Replace Old Shoes and Socks
Fabric shoes and socks develop odors over time and should be replaced every six months – or sooner if they smell unpleasant even after washing. Old, degraded materials allow for more bacterial growth. Invest in new supportive, breathable shoes and high-quality socks.
Try Antifungal Treatments
If excessive foot sweating and odor persists, over-the-counter antifungal sprays, powders and creams can help. Products with miconazole or clotrimazole work to control fungi and bacteria. Apply twice daily, including between the toes until sweat and smells dissipate.
See a Podiatrist or Dermatologist
For severe, untreatable foot odor, make an appointment with a foot doctor or skin doctor. You may have a underlying condition like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or a fungal infection causing uncontrollable smells. Prescription-strength antiperspirants and antifungals are available to curb foot odor.
If prescription treatments are not an option, try homemade foot odor remedies:
- Baking soda foot baths neutralize foot odor
- Dab apple cider vinegar between toes and let dry to kill bacteria
- Apply a thin layer of plain yogurt between toes before bed – the enzymes eat odor-causing particles
- Dust feet and shoes with cornstarch or baby powder to absorb moisture
- Place tea bags soaked in vinegar in shoes overnight to absorb odors
With discipline, the right footwear and consistent hygiene, you can say goodbye to smelly feet for good. Don’t let foot odor diminish your confidence. Implement these dermatologist-recommended tips today to keep your feet fresh, healthy and odor-free all year long.