What To Do About A Smelly Foot
A smelly foot can be unpleasant or embarrassing, depending upon whether the foot belongs to someone standing next to you, or belongs to you. If a person has a smelly foot, or more likely a pair of them, that person may be the last to realize it, although if the smell is bad enough they eventually will. Washing the feet or applying a dusting of foot powder may be a temporary fix, but normally the problem doesn't easily go away and may even get worse over time.
As each person's body chemistry is somewhat unique, whatever smells we may emit might be considered our "signature" smells. That's probably an exaggeration, but it is a fact that the scent from one person's smelly foot is often different from the scent of another's. For some, a foot odor problem may be barely noticed by others, if noticed at all. For others, people will want to leave the room when the shoes come off.
Two Types Of Bacteria - A smelly foot is normally one that is perspiring, as perspiration is the major factor behind foot odor. More accurately, perspiration creates the environment where the real culprit, Brevibacteria, can thrive. These bacteria feed on the dead skin on the foot, especially between the toes, and produce methanethiol as a waste product. The methanethiol has a definite sulfuric aroma. A second type of bacteria, Propionibacteria may also contribute. These bacteria live in the sweat glands and produce a compound called propionic acid, which is very similar to acetic acid and is characterized by the same vinegar-like odor. Both of these bacteria are also found in many cheeses, which is one reason that a smelly foot can at times remind one of a piece of overripe cheese.
Feet Sweat - While we tend to think of perspiration forming first on our brow when we exert ourselves, the brow or scalp is actually no closer than third place as far as the number and density of sweat glands is concerned. The hands and feet produce the greatest amount of sweat for a given area. When we sweat, our feet do as well, even though we don't always notice it. Wearing closed shoes with synthetic stockings, which don't breathe or absorb moisture, give perspiration an ideal place to collect, and bacteria a perfect place to thrive in.
Start With Hygiene - The smelly foot can also be a hereditary condition. Some people simply sweat more profusely than do others. Excessive sweating can be a major cause of foot odors, and those who tens to sweat profusely may have to rely on prescription medicines or ointments to resolve a foot odor problem. For most of us however, it can be simply a matter of following a pattern of good foot hygiene. Washing the feet regularly, and changing shoes and socks daily may be enough to prevent a smelly foot problem. Once a problem with foot odor has begun however, just washing the feet and changing socks may not be enough. Foot powder needs to be put in all the shoes that are worn. The same goes for insoles designed to prevent foot odor. If you clean your feet and place them in shoes that haven't been treated, the odor problem will start all over again.
Things Worth Doing - There are a number of home remedies for the smelly foot said to work wonders. Most of them don't, but one that seems to be effective is soaking the feet in a solution of black tea. Do this on a daily basis for a week, and the foot odor you have may just go away. It's the acid in the tea that kills the bacteria that's doing the work. If black tea doesn't work, a stronger foot medication may be needed. Other things you can do is to go around barefoot, or just wearing socks or sandals, as much as possible. It's usually possible to do this at home, probably not so easy to do at work. Cotton socks are really best. Buy a bunch, and wear a clean pair every day. Wool is still best for hiking, but cotton is fine for just walking around in. Get socks that have some cushion to them. Avoid sweaty feet and be comfortable at the same time. Finally, it's always a good idea to give the feet a good scrubbing at least once a week to get rid of excess dead skin. Make those bacteria search for food. Don't give them a buffet.