Causes and Treatment for Smelly Feet

It’s bone chillingly cold out here in NYC, we are recovering from yet another snowstorm, and in this endless nuclear winter it’s hard to think about anything but keeping warm.  Eventually though it will warm up (right?) and warmer weather leads to sweaty feet, which brings with it stinky foot odor.  Yes, it’s not so sexy, and maybe this isn’t exactly where I am optimally applying my Ivy League education, but for the love of everything good and noble, we live in a developed society, and I would like to think we deserve fragrant feet.  So what makes feet smell and how to we combat this scourge of society?  Read on.

WHAT CAUSES SMELLY FEET?

As was just intimated, smelly feet and foot odor is an effect of foot sweat.  Bacteria that live on the skin and shoes thrive in sweaty environments and produce an acid by-product that is the source of the stink (must be tough for the germs to get a date – maybe that’s why they use asexual reproduction).  By reducing or eliminating the sweat, we can thereby reduce the stink.  Of course there are other factors at work, such as activity, type of shoes, amount of sweat, and our own personal body chemistry.  Here are a few ways to decrease sweating, and beat the odor.

HOW TO TREAT FOOT ODOR:

  • Feet sweat, and that is just a fact of life.  Some of the easier methods used for reducing sweat are both prescription and regular over the counter antiperspirants.  The active ingredient in these products, aluminum chloride, is effective at reducing sweat production – just like when used on other parts of the body that tend to sweat, such as under arms.
  • A popular folk remedy used to reduce sweat is soaking the feet in a black tea bath.
  • Both baking soda and vinegar are mentioned as addition to foot soaks to eliminate sweating, which is intriguing since baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid.  Don’t mix these two together as it will produce a stunning acid-base reaction.
  • For feet that sweat profusely and do not respond to conservative treatments, systemic medications are available, and Botox injected into the sweat glands of the feet can safely eliminate sweating completely for up to six months (and this treatment is available in your NYC podiatry office).
  • The addition of any antifungal foot powder to shoes will absorb excess sweat, and Lysol can be used to kill bacteria that are resident in shoes.
    Activated charcoal inserts, available at any pharmacy, can be added to shoes to both absorb sweat and reduce odor.

So if you are embarrassed to take your shoes off in public, if your spouse stores your shoes on the fire escape, or if you refuse to go bowling, fear not, help is available.  Call our office today at 212-420-6002 or make an appointment online. The weather, however, is beyond my control…

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson