Having stinky feet can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable problem. The smell is often caused by excessive sweating, bacteria growth, or not washing your feet properly. While there are many temporary solutions like wearing socks, using foot powder, or applying antiperspirant, these don’t get to the root causes of stinky feet. The good news is that with some diligence and lifestyle changes, you can permanently stop stinky feet. Here are the top tips:
Improve Your Foot Hygiene You should be washing your feet daily with soap and water, especially between the toes where bacteria collects. Make sure to thoroughly dry your feet afterwards, including between the toes. Consider using an anti-bacterial soap or one with tea tree oil to help kill odor-causing bacteria. After washing, apply a foot powder or spray to help keep your feet dry and discourage bacteria growth.
Always wear clean, breathable socks that wick moisture. Change your socks at least once a day, or more if you sweat a lot. Wear moisture-wicking socks made of natural fibers like cotton or wool. Avoid socks made of synthetic fabrics which don’t breathe as well. Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row – alternate pairs so each has time to fully dry out.
Soak your feet in a foot bath regularly. Make a foot soak with warm water and antibacterial essential oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint or lavender oil. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes to cleanse and deodorize them. Foot soaks will also soften calluses and exfoliate dead skin cells.
Use an antifungal foot powder daily. Look for a powder containing zinc oxide, talc, or antifungal ingredients like clotrimazole or miconazole. Apply it liberally over your feet and between the toes before putting on socks. The powder will help absorb sweat and moisture while fighting fungi and bacteria. Reapply as needed throughout the day if your feet get sweaty.
Apply antiperspirant or deodorant on your feet. Just like your underarms, antiperspirant will stop sweat and odor on your feet. Apply an antiperspirant stick or spray to the soles of your feet and between the toes before bed. The aluminum salts will stop sweat while the antimicrobial ingredients inhibit bacterial growth. Reapply after showering or exercise when your feet are prone to sweating.
Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells. Use a foot scrubber or pumice stone in the shower or bath to slough off dry, dead skin. Focus on callused areas and heels. Removing this dead skin will minimize odor since bacteria feeds on the dead cells. After exfoliating, apply a moisturizing foot cream.
Wear open-toed shoes and sandals when possible. Tight, closed shoes prevent airflow around your feet leading to a hot, sweaty environment perfect for bacteria. Let your feet breathe regularly by wearing open-toed shoes, flip flops or sandals. Have two pairs and alternate them to give each one a chance to fully dry out.
Treat toenail fungus if present. Yellow, brittle toenails with crumbling edges may indicate a fungal infection. Over-the-counter antifungal creams, prescription oral medications, or laser treatments can clear up stubborn nail fungus. Eliminating the infection will remove one source of foot odor.
Control foot sweat medically if needed. Some people suffer from a condition called hyperhidrosis that causes excessive foot sweating. Your doctor can prescribe clinical-strength antiperspirants, iontophoresis treatments, botox injections or anticholinergic medications in severe cases. Stopping excessive sweat will significantly reduce foot odor.
Use antibacterial shoe inserts or sprays. Inserts impregnated with silver oxide, activated carbon or other antimicrobial substances will absorb foot odors inside your shoes. You can also spray the interior of your shoes with antibacterial sprays containing chlorine dioxide or isopropyl alcohol to kill bacteria. Let your shoes dry fully between wears.
Get pedicures regularly. Have a professional trim, file and clean your toenails every 4-6 weeks. They can remove thick calluses with a foot buffer and extract ingrown toenails. Pedicures also include a foot bath and scrub to deep cleanse your feet. Consistent pedicures will keep your feet looking and smelling fresher.
Watch your diet and stay hydrated. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables and drinking plenty of water leads to healthier sweat glands and odor-fighting secretions. Avoid spicy foods, red meat, and processed foods which can make foot odor worse. Stay hydrated since dehydration concentrates sweat compounds.
Consider prescription strength foot antiperspirants. If over-the-counter antiperspirants aren’t strong enough, your doctor may prescribe potent antiperspirants containing up to 15-20% aluminum chloride. These work by temporarily plugging the sweat ducts in your feet for several days, reducing sweat and odor. Reapply once or twice per week.
Get antibacterial shoe inserts. Inserts treated with antimicrobial silver oxide, copper fibers or activated carbon absorb odors and inhibit bacteria inside your shoes. Replace the inserts regularly per package directions. You can also spray the interior of your shoes with antibacterial sprays containing chlorine dioxide or isopropyl alcohol.
Practice good foot hygiene consistently. Make a daily habit of washing and thoroughly drying your feet. Change into clean, dry socks daily and rotate different pairs of shoes. Apply foot powder and deodorant/antiperspirant regularly. Stay diligent with your foot care regimen and you’ll notice the stinky feet problem improves or goes away completely.
Smelly feet can be frustrating to deal with but very treatable with the right lifestyle adjustments and hygiene routine. Pay special attention to washing between the toes, exfoliating dead skin, treating excessive sweat or fungal infections, wearing clean socks and shoes, using foot powders/deodorants, and maintaining your feet’s health. With commitment to these tips, you can successfully stop stinky feet for good. Your feet will look and smell fresh, giving you confidence to go sockless or shoeless whenever you please. Don’t let unpleasant foot odor hold you back – take control and implement these foot hygiene practices today.