It’s a common problem many people face – slipping on a pair of sandals only to be overwhelmed by a foul foot odor wafting up. While smelly feet can happen in any shoes, the open-air nature of sandals makes the smell impossible to ignore. But why does this happen? Here are some of the main causes of extra stinky feet in sandals and what you can do about it:
One of the biggest culprits behind sandal foot smell is sweaty feet. The feet have more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of the body. When your feet sweat heavily in shoes all day, that moisture gets trapped. Bacteria on the skin feast on the sweat and produce odor-causing acids as a waste product. Walking around in open-air sandals allows that stench to escape rather than being contained. Wearing moisture-wicking socks made of breathable material can help soak up excess sweat. Alternating pairs of shoes throughout the week also allows them to fully dry out between wears.
Even feet that don’t sweat excessively can start to smell when wearing sandals. The straps and soles of sandals easily harbor bacteria, especially if you wear them without socks. The bacteria accumulate in the shoes and release stinky metabolites. Using a disinfecting spray designed for shoes can help kill off bacteria. Make sure to spray inside the straps and along the footbed. Let your sandals fully dry before wearing them again. Also, avoid wearing the same pair two days in a row to prevent bacteria overload.
Another common source of foot odor is fungal infections like athlete’s foot. The fungi that cause these infections live on the dead skin cells and oils that build up on your feet. Walking around all day in sweaty shoes gives the fungi a perfect warm, moist environment to thrive. Then when you kick off your shoes and expose your feet in sandals, the fungal overgrowth releases unpleasant odors. An antifungal powder sprayed inside shoes and sandals can help curb fungal foot infections and smells.
Basic hygiene plays a big role in foot odor. Infrequent washing and scrubbing can leave traces of odor-causing bacteria and fungi on your feet. The open nature of sandals allows those odors to spread unchecked. Get in the habit of washing your feet daily with soap and water, especially between the toes where sweat and bacteria accumulate. Exfoliate gently with a scrub brush or towel to remove dead skin cell buildup. Clip and file toenails straight across to eliminate bacteria traps.
Believe it or not, what you eat can directly affect how your feet smell. Foods like garlic, onions, spices, and cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that get absorbed into your bloodstream. As you sweat, these compounds can then be released through your sweat glands giving the sweat a pungent odor. Curbing your consumption of these foods could help reduce foot smell, especially if you know you’ll be wearing sandals. Stay hydrated as well since this helps flush smelly compounds from your system.
In rare cases, exceptionally smelly feet could signal an underlying medical condition. Excessively sweaty feet accompanied by odor can point to hyperhidrosis. This is a disorder of the sweat glands causing excessive sweating beyond what’s normal. Immersion of the feet in vinegar solution daily can help control symptoms.
Particularly foul foot odor that persists despite good hygiene could also indicate a bacterial infection. Bromodosis is a condition where bacteria feed on foot sweat and grow rapidly producing a foul stench. See a dermatologist for a prescription antibacterial wash.
Finally, poor circulation and diabetes can also amplify foot odor issues. When blood flow to the feet is impaired, sweat builds up providing prime bacteria food. Proper management of medical conditions combined with foot hygiene aids can help diminish odor.
Preventing Smelly Sandal Feet
Now that you know the most likely culprits behind your stinky sandaled feet, here are some prevention tips:
- Wash feet with antibacterial soap and exfoliate skin daily
- Use antifungal spray or powder in shoes and sandals
- Alternate pairs of shoes to allow thorough drying
- Use moisture-wicking socks with sandals
- Clip and file toenails straight across
- Limit foods that promote odor-causing compounds
- Treat any underlying medical conditions
- Use deodorizing insoles or ball of foot pads
- Disinfect sandals regularly with antibacterial sprays
- Keep feet dry with absorbing foot powders
Don’t let foot odor deter you from the carefree comfort of sandals. With consistent foot hygiene and an odor-fighting game plan, you can keep your feet fresh all summer long. Say goodbye to embarrassing smells and enjoy the freedom of your favorite footwear.