Foot odor requires no definition, but it may require explanation. We at NOPA are happy to oblige.
The feet and hands contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body, with roughly 3000 glands per square inch. That adds up to around 250,000 sweat glands in the feet alone!
Causes of Foot Odor
- Alcohol or drug use
- Athlete's foot
- Hormonal changes
- Hyperhidrosis (unusually sweaty feet)
- Inadequate hygiene
- Sweating--it's not the sweat that smells, but the sweat's interaction with the bacteria that thrive in shoes and socks
- Wearing poorly fitting shoes or wearing a pair of shoes for too long
Symptoms of Foot Odor
- Well...foot odor!
Treatments for Foot Odor
- Iontophoresis, form of electrolysis--however, it can be difficult to administer. In the worst cases of hyperhidrosis, a surgeon can cut the nerve that controls sweating. Recent advances in technology have made this surgery much safer, but it may increase sweating in other areas of the body.
- Prescription medications
- Soaking your feet in a solution of baking soda and water--1 tablespoon of baking soda for every quart of water
- Soaking your feet in a solution that is one part vinegar, two parts water
- Soaking your feet in strong black tea for 30 minutes a day for one week--use 2 tea bags per pint (1 pint=2 cups) of water, boil for fifteen minutes, and then add two quarts of cool water. Soak your feet in the cool solution.
Prevention of Foot Odor
- Bathing your feet daily in lukewarm water, using a mild soap and drying thoroughly
- Changing your socks and shoes at least once a day
- Checking for fungal infections between your toes and on the bottoms of your feet--if you see any redness or dry, patchy skin, get treatment right away
- Discarding shoes that continue to smell even after they have been allowed to air out and after you have used some type of anti-odor product
- Dusting your feet frequently with a nonmedicated baby powder or foot powder or applying antibacterial ointment
- Practicing good foot hygiene to keep bacteria levels at a minimum
- Sprinkling baking soda in your shoes to kill bacteria
- Using a disinfecting spray in your shoes
- Washing your socks inside out, which allows dead flakes of skin to wash away more easily
- Wearing different shoes on consecutive days to allow the shoes to air out--typically 24 hours is required
- Wearing thick, soft socks that help draw moisture away from the feet--cotton and other absorbent materials (no nylon) are best
- Wearing socks when wearing closed shoes
- Wearing shoes made of leather, canvas, mesh, or other materials (no plastic) that allow your feet to breathe
- Wearing shoes that fit appropriately; it's recommended that you change your athletic shoes annually and change your running shoes every 300-400 miles--the NOPA team can help you decide which shoe is best for you!
For more information on foot odor and perspiration treatment, call New Orleans Podiatry Associates in New Orleans, LA, at (504) 897-3627. For the Metairie, LA, location, call (504) 457-2300.