Many parents notice that their young sons tend to have smelly feet, even with regular bathing and hygiene. This can be embarrassing for boys, especially as they get older and become more self-conscious. So is it normal for boys to have stinky feet? What causes this phenomenon? And what can parents do to help?
Why Do Boys’ Feet Smell?
There are a few reasons why boys’ feet tend to smell more than girls’ feet, especially during the preteen and teen years.
- Sweat glands – Boys tend to have more active sweat glands in their feet during puberty, which results in more sweating and odor. The increase in testosterone fuels the production of sweat.
- Socks and shoes – Socks and shoes provide a warm, dark environment where bacteria on the feet can thrive and cause odor. Boys tend to wear socks and closed toe shoes more often than girls.
- Hygiene habits – Girls tend to be more meticulous about washing their feet with soap and scrubbing between toes. Boys may skip this step in their rushed shower routines.
- Fungal infections – Boys are more prone to fungal infections like athlete’s foot, which can cause stinky feet. Their feet sweat more, providing the perfect condition for fungus.
- Structure of boys’ feet – The structure of boys’ feet changes during puberty, becoming longer and thicker. This provides more surface area for bacteria to grow.
So in summary, the causes of smelly feet in boys can be traced to hormonal changes, foot structure, hygiene habits, footwear environment, and susceptibility to fungi. It’s a natural side effect of a boy’s developing body.
When to Be Concerned
While smelly feet are normal for most boys, extremely foul foot odor or itchy/scaling feet could signal an underlying problem that needs treatment.
- Bacterial infection – A strong rotten or fishy odor could indicate a bacterial infection, which requires antibiotic medication. This tends to be more common in the moist environment of socks and shoes.
- Hyperhidrosis – If the smell is accompanied by excessive sweating of the feet, your son may have a condition called hyperhidrosis. See a dermatologist for treatment options.
- Diabetes – In rare cases, unexplained foot odor may be a sign of diabetes, which can change the chemical makeup of sweat. Monitor for other diabetes symptoms and consult a doctor.
- Allergies – Allergies to dyes, fabrics, or rubber in socks can also cause foot irritation and odor in boys. Try different socks to see if it improves.
If the smell persists despite good hygiene, talk to your pediatrician. Smelly feet aren’t usually a major health concern, but it’s good to rule out any underlying problems.
How to Control Smell
Here are some tips to help boys manage and reduce foot odor:
- Wash feet daily – Have your son wash his feet with soap and water every day, drying carefully between the toes. Avoid harsh scrubbing which can irritate skin.
- Rotate shoes – Wearing the same shoes day after day builds up bacteria. Have 2-3 good pairs and alternate days worn.
- Use foot powder – Applying an antibacterial foot powder can help absorb sweat and odor, especially before sports.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks – Choose athletic socks that wick moisture away from the feet to reduce sweating. Change socks twice a day if needed.
- Use shoe inserts – Inserts like charcoal or cedar can help absorb foot odor inside shoes.
- Treat fungal infections – If athlete’s foot is causing the smell, use an over-the-counter antifungal spray or powder.
- Let shoes air out – Remove shoe insoles after use and place shoes in a well-ventilated area to dry out.
With some extra attention to washing, socks, and footwear, most boys can keep their feet fresh. But smelly feet from time to time are often just part of growing up as a boy. Being patient and understanding can help your son handle this maturation annoyance. If needed, talk to a podiatrist or dermatologist for personalized advice on curbing your son’s stinky feet.