Few things feel quite so good as kicking off your shoes after a day out and about. But you may be reluctant to go barefoot, especially if you’re self-conscious about foot odor. You can learn how to prevent smelly feet, and then go shoe-free as much as you want.
What Causes Smelly Feet?
Wondering why you have stinky feet? It all comes down to sweat and moisture. Smelly sweat is natural, but it might also be a sign of a potential foot problem.
- Bacteria. Body odor, whether it comes from your underarms or your feet, is caused by the bacteria that live in sweat. Feet are a breeding ground for this bacteria because each foot has 250,000 sweat glands. Each of your feet makes about a cup of sweat per day!1
- Extra sweat. Some people’s feet are extra sweaty. Pregnant women sweat more than other women. Teenagers sweat more than adults. And any time your skin is hot, you’ll have more foot sweating. When your sweat mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells, it gets smelly.2
- Medical conditions. Some people have plantar hyperhidrosis, a condition that makes them sweat excessively. Hyperhidrosis is more common in men than women. This condition may make you feel like your feet are never dry.3 Note: please seek medical attention from a professional if you believe you have a medical condition.
- Fungal infections. Athletes foot, a common foot fungal infection, can sometimes make your feet smell. It grows in the space between your toes, and it is very contagious.4
Once you know what’s causing your stinky feet, you’ll know how to get rid of the stink. Sweaty feet are often a culprit, but this isn’t the only possibility. If you’ve ruled out sweat and smelly moisture, you may have athlete’s foot, or another condition.
What are Some Easy Tips to Prevent Smelly Feet?
You don’t need to be ashamed about your smelly feet. You can get rid of the unpleasant odor, and even prevent stinky feet. The key is to keep them clean and dry. Your skin will love these healthy home remedies to reduce foot odor.
- Dry your feet. Certain products can help dry your foot sweat.5 Foot powder, like baby powder and oat flour, and foot antiperspirants can help keep smelly sweat off your feet. Apply them to your feet and toes to stop foot odor in its tracks.6
- Cool your feet. Your feet sweat to keep cool. When you feel cooler, you sweat less, and your feet will smell less. If your feet are hot, remove your shoes or socks and let them cool off. Cool feet won’t allow smelly sweat to soak them.7
- A correct fit. Make sure you wear shoes and socks that fit correctly. Comfortable shoes will feel good, on top of slowing bacterial growth.8
- Fabrics. Sometimes, the material your shoes or socks are made from can make stinky feet worse. Stay away from synthetic materials to cut back on your foot smell.9
- Wash well. You can get rid of foot smell with a cleansing foot bath. Apple cider vinegar has powerful antibacterial properties. An ACV soak and scrub can help kill odor-causing bacteria, leaving your feet fresh and clean.10
- Medicate. If athlete’s foot is making your feet smell, you can try a medicated powder. You can also wash your feet with tea tree oil or lavender oil to help fight off fungus like the one that causes athlete’s foot.11
- Absorb moisture. Baking soda and cornstarch both absorb odor and sweat. You can put these powders on your feet, or in your shoes, to help absorb moisture. After washing your feet with baking soda, don’t put fresh socks on.12
- Disinfect. Rubbing alcohol may help give you relief from athlete’s foot. Try applying it on a cotton ball to the soles of your feet as a quick disinfectant. Or, spray a little rubbing alcohol inside your smelly shoes when you’re not wearing them.13
Many of these techniques are easy. But if you’re doing everything right and your dry feet still smell, talk to a doctor or podiatrist. Your stinky feet might be a symptom of a skin condition, or something more serious.
How to Maintain Good Foot Hygiene
- There’s more to foot health than just keeping them smelling nice. Take steps to prevent foot odor, but also follow these best practices for your feet and toes.
- Wash your feet with soap and water every day. Don’t just scrub the tops of your feet – also make sure you’re washing the space between your toes. This will help you avoid stinky feet, but also help to keep away bacteria and fungi.14
- It’s important to wear socks that are clean. If the socks you’re wearing get sweaty, change into a fresh pair. And never wear the same pair of socks two days in a row.15
- Bacteria thrives in places with lots of moisture. That’s why you should only wear dry socks and shoes, including athletic shoes. Again, change up your pair of shoes every few days.16
- If you’re wearing sandals outside or going barefoot, wear sunscreen. And inspect your feet after you’ve been walking barefoot. Check for cuts, growths, or anything weird on your skin. If you step on something that breaks the skin, wash the wound with soap and water and then see your doctor.17
- A relaxing foot bath can also have other benefits to your health. Studies show that foot baths can also help increase blood flow. Add nice-smelling essential oils to your water for extra relaxation.18
Your feet are important – you’re walking on them all day, every day. So, make sure you’re taking proper care of them. Sweaty feet, stressed feet, and infected feet can all contribute to an unpleasant smell.
Your Feet Can Smell Fresh
Foot odor can be unpleasant and embarrassing. But you don’t have to live with sweaty feet! With a few simple steps, like a foot soak, antiperspirant, and a good scrub, you can take control of your foot care.
Foot odor can be caused by the shoes you’re wearing, the sweat on your feet, and how you’re washing your feet. By making some changes, you can get rid of smelly feet. Say goodbye to stinky feet, and say hello to healthy, happy foot freedom.
Antiperspirants to Help Foot Odor and Excessive Sweating
Interesting Ways That Shoe Styles Can Help (and Hurt) Your Feet
5 Reasons Why You Should Always Wear Socks With Shoes