Are you all too familiar with that exquisite smell that comes up when you take your shoes off? Are your feet always sweaty? Do you get embarrassed to take your shoes off when you go to the podiatrist? Why is it that your feet are always extra sweaty and smelly? Surely there must be some way to fix this? Luckily for us all, the solution to this problem is actually quite simple and it all starts with you and in the comfort of your own home too.
Firstly, let’s look at a few causes of smelly, sweaty feet:
– Excessive perspiration (sweating)
– Bacterial growth on the surface of the feet
– Not swapping between shoes (wearing the same shoes every day). Feet become smelly if sweat soaks into the shoes and you wear them again before they are dry
– Poor personal hygiene
– Hormonal changes can cause feet to sweat more, so teenagers and pregnant women are especially prone to sweaty feet
– If you are stressed
– A condition called hyperhidrosis, which causes you to sweat more than usual
– Not wearing cotton socks, materials such as nylon or elastane do not help in wicking out sweat, instead they retain moisture.
We get smelly feet when the perspiration from our feet has no where to evaporate (when we wear shoes and socks that aren’t breathable). The sweat itself is not the cause of the foul smell, bacteria that lives on the surface of the skin eats at the sweat and produces Isovaleric acid which causes the odour.
Here are some tips and tricks you can use within your own home to reduce the presence of sweaty and smelly feet:
1. Use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet. A normal underarm one will work just as well as a specialist foot product. There are also specific foot deodorisers (which come in spray, powder and cream forms).
2. When you have dried your feet with a towel after a shower or bath, dab between your toes with cotton wool dipped in methylated spirits.
3. Put detachable medicated insoles in your shoes. These have a deodorizing effect.
4. Try foot-fresh socks. These are impregnated with chemicals to discourage the bacteria that break down the sweat and cause a smell. Some sports socks have ventilating panels to help keep feet dry. Furthermore, ensure that all socks are cotton with minimal nylon and elastane.
5. Wear leather (breathable) footwear. In the summer, wear open-toed sandals. When wearing sport shoes, try and get shoes that have a mesh (breathable upper) to help with evaporation of sweat.
6. Sweaty feet can be treated with an antibacterial foot scrub, but avoid using these scrubs if you have broken skin or eczema.
7. Preventative measures include spraying the feet with tea tree oil spray or using tinea powders once a day before putting your shoes on.
8. Using Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitisers, such as the SteriShoe. UV light kills not only bacteria but also fungus, spores and mould causing nasty foot conditions such as toenail fungus (Onychomycosis) and Athlete’s Foot.
If in doubt, come and see us for more personalised and helpful strategies.
Dr Jessica Shehata (Podiatrist)