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Top Tips for Banishing Athlete’s Foot and Smelly Feet

If your feet are itchy, peeling, cracking or emitting an unpleasant odor, you may have contracted athlete’s foot – one of the most common fungal infections that plague feet. Medically known as tinea pedis, this condition thrives in the warm, dark and often damp confines of shoes and socks. Once caught, it can be tricky to banish. Left untreated, it may spread to toenails and even the hands. The good news is with some diligent foot care, you can conquer fungus and regain fresh, healthy feet. This article explores the root causes of athlete’s foot and smelly feet along with the most effective remedies.

What Triggers Athlete’s Foot Fungal Infections?

A type of fungus called trichophyton is the typical culprit behind athlete’s foot. These microscopic organisms feed on keratin, the protein that makes up skin, hair and nails. The fungi thrive in the following environments:

  • Tight-fitting, nonbreathable shoes and socks trapping heat and sweat against feet. This warm, dark and moist setting provides an ideal breeding ground.
  • Damp areas where people go barefoot such as swimming pools, locker rooms and showers. The fungi cling to moist surfaces and can be easily picked up by bare feet.
  • Minor cuts or cracks in the skin allowing fungi and bacteria to penetrate deeper.

In most cases, the body’s immune system keeps athlete’s foot fungi under control. But if conditions are right, colonies can grow rapidly triggering inflammation, itching, stinging and other classic signs of infection.

What Causes Smelly Feet?

While athlete’s foot plays a role, smelly feet also stem from overabundant bacteria which feast on sweat. Feet have more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of the body – about 250,000 per foot. While sweat itself is odorless, bacteria dining on it release isovaleric acid, causing stinky foot odor.

Again, shoes and socks provide an ideal home for bacteria to multiply exponentially if feet stew too long in sweat. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot also indirectly contribute to smelly feet by irritating and inflaming skin, stimulating yet more sweat.

Top Tips to Treat Athlete’s Foot Fungus

If you spot early signs of athlete’s foot like skin peeling, itching or redness especially between the toes, take swift action before fungi populations explode. Along with over-the-counter antifungal treatments, proactive foot hygiene helps curb fungus.

  • Keep feet clean and dry. Change socks at least twice daily and wash feet with soap and water. Pat dry carefully between toes where moisture gets trapped.
  • Apply antifungal powder. Dusting your feet and shoes with antifungal powder containing ingredients like miconazole, clotrimazole or tolnaftate kills fungi while absorbing sweat. Reapply after exercise or at midday if possible.
  • Try over the counter antifungal spray or cream. These supply added ammunition against foot fungus in solution form spread easily between the toes. Look for clotrimazole, butenafine or terbinafine active ingredients.
  • Consider prescription oral antifungal medicine if OTC treatments fail. For moderate to severe athlete’s foot, doctors may prescribe oral medications like terbinafine, itraconazole or fluconazole to tackle infections internally and externally.
  • Disinfect shoes and socks. Use antifungal shoe spray inside shoes and wash socks in hot water with antifungal detergent to kill lingering fungi between wears. Consider rotating pairs of shoes.
  • Soak feet weekly in an antifungal bath. Immersing feet in a basin mixed with antifungal ingredients helps curb mild infections and prevent recurrence once cleared.

Pro Tips to Banish Smelly Feet

Curbing excess sweat and bacteria will help tackle foot odor once athlete’s foot is under control. Bathing feet daily in antimicrobial soap followed by thorough drying is key. Further tactics include:

  • Allow shoes a 24 break between wears. This prevents bacteria buildup from sweat deposition. Stuff shoes with fragrant shoe trees to help dry insides faster. Purchase second shoe pairs to rotate.
  • Change into clean, dry socks halfway through the day or anytime sweat soaked. Choose moisture wicking athletic socks to stay drier.
  • Dust antibiotic foot powder inside shoes and socks before wearing. Look for active ingredients like zeolites that absorb sweat and inhibit bacteria.
  • Wipe feet with rubbing alcohol mid-day. This disinfects skin, removing bacteria making feet smell fresh longer even while wearing shoes.

Implementing a consistent foot care regimen to fight fungus while curbing sweat and bacteria will get you back on your feet odor free. Still battling foot funk? See a podiatrist or dermatologist to vanquish stubborn athlete’s foot and eliminate unpleasant foot odor once and for all.