Smelly feet, technically known as “bromhidrosis,” are a fact of life, especially in winter when you have been in socks and shoes all day. Simply washing and drying your feet, while helpful, won’t necessarily take care of the problem. That’s because foot odour is caused by bacteria that breed in wet or moist environments on and around the feet; once your feet start to sweat again, the odour may reappear–especially if you slip them back into the same footwear that contributed to the smell to start with.
Can home remedies get rid of the foul odour?
There’s very little scientific evidence to support the use of home remedies for foot odour or for any other foot condition. Some strategies might work for some people, even if those strategies aren’t proven. However, certain remedies require caution because they involve potentially caustic substances, such as bleach. And in all cases, it’s important to focus not only on the feet, but the environment. This means shoes, socks and surfaces with which the feet come into contact.
Here’s a look at some popular home remedies for foot odour:
Antiperspirant deodorant: The ingredients work the same way on the soles of the feet as they do when applied under the arms, so although no studies support its use, some people do find applying underarm deodorant to the feet reduces odour.
Baking soda/corn starch: Both do reduce foot odour for many people, although again, there is no research to support their efficacy. Remember to change your socks and shoes after applying it. Adding either to your shoes may help absorb additional moisture where germs can breed.
Disinfecting shoes: Using a household cleaning/disinfecting agent in your shoes could help because the bacteria responsible for foot odour often live in shoes.
Salt soak: No clinical research suggests this soak is effective in preventing foot odour; however, salt has a drying effect on the skin and, by reducing moisture, it may have some benefit. People who use this approach say kosher salt is made of larger crystals than regular table salt, and tends to dissolve better in water.
Lemon juice mixed with water: Several studies show that lemon juice has antibacterial properties. It is also an astringent that can help to remove dead skin from the feet. No studies specifically show this approach prevents foot odour, but many people find it helpful.
Talcum powder: Like baking soda, talcum powder helps absorb excess moisture that can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Scented powder can also disguise odours in shoes and on the feet. Again, there are no studies confirming this, but no harm in trying.
Tea soak: The tannic acid in tea acts as an astringent, meaning it cleans and dries the skin and contracts the pores. However, if you put clean feet back into dirty socks and shoes, the odour is likely to recur.
Many articles on the Internet give specific formulas for using these approaches. But since there is no clinical evidence that they are effective, keep in mind that what works for one person might not work for another.
The best year-round strategy for preventing foot odour and other foot conditions is to keep your feet and footwear clean; change socks daily or more often if you are active; rotate shoes every few days; and inspect your feet daily for signs of sores, cuts, cracks and itchiness between the toes, which could indicate athlete’s foot.
If foot conditions persist or if you have diabetes or another condition that affects blood flow to the feet, see The Podiatrist. We have an extensive range of products that can help you with foot odour.
Get started on resolving your foot problem today.
Call The Podiatrist
Toenails keep growing, which means nail salons will be busy clipping, buffing and polishing toes. Tending those colourful toes, though, poses health risks.
The risks to consider include fungus, viruses and bacterial infections,
If the place you go to isn’t vigilant about how they treat the instruments between clients, there’s a greater possibility of picking up something that could make toenails painful. And even the most skilled pedicurist will occasionally slip and cut the skin.,
The risk really lies with the pedicurist wanting to do such a good job that they become too aggressive cleaning the cuticle, for example. They get their little scissors out and (push back and then) trim the cuticle, and that just opens the body up to infection.
Podiatrists consider tampering with the cuticle, which helps anchor the nail to the skin, a major mistake. Pushing back the cuticle or clipping it, both of which are common during pedicures, can let bacteria in.
Another common mistake made in pedicures is cutting nails too aggressively on the sides. This can lead to painful ingrown toenails that break the skin, sometimes requiring surgical treatment.
To avoid this problem, it is important to visit The Podiatrist.
While people can acquire fungus at a salon, the average healthy person is not likely to walk out with diseased toenails and toes.
In most cases of toenail fungus, he says, “there’s an immune system defect”.
Just make sure you aren’t being treated with a used pumice (a porous rock used for exfoliating skin can harbour bacteria) and don’t be afraid to ask questions” about sterilisation procedures.
The gold standard is to clean metal tools in an autoclave, a machine that sterilises instruments using high-pressure, high-temperature steam.
Cleaning tools in liquid disinfectant can kill most germs and viruses if they soak for at least 10 minutes, but that won’t guarantee sterility, the doctors say.
The only way to know instruments are clean enough is if you see them coming out of a steriliser.
Some pedicurists use disposable emery boards, and metal tools are put into a steriliser pouch and autoclaved.
Another major health issue is the soaking of feet before treatment. Fibreglass or plastic bowls are porous and can harbour bacteria more easily.
The Podiatrist warns patients about the whirlpool foot baths used in many pedicures because they are connected to piping that is difficult to sterilise.
The Podiatrist says higher-risk people should probably avoid salon pedicures, even at businesses conscientious about sterilisation .
This includes anyone with immune problems or poor circulation, such as people undergoing chemotherapy or with heart trouble or diabetes.
Diabetics don’t heal as well as others, and often don’t realise they’ve been cut because the disease can cause numbness.
People over 65 are also more susceptible to infection.
Foot care for those most at risk should be handled by The Podiatrist, who has many patients who come to have their nails cut and calluses shaved.
Any procedure that might seem like even minor surgery is not salon-appropriate.
Podiatrists’ tips for preserving foot health during a pedicure:
– Ask how instruments are sterilised. An autoclave is safest. Tools cleaned with a liquid disinfectant need to soak for or at least 10 minutes to eliminate most bacteria and viruses.
– Opt for a salon that uses glass or metal foot bath bowls, since they are the easiest to keep
– Consider taking your own instruments to the nail salon.
– Because nail polish used on many can harbour bacteria and fungus, consider bringing your own polish for the pedicurist to apply.
Get started on resolving your foot problem today.
Call The Podiatrist.
Not the most glamorous injury, but ingrown toenails are easily one of the more common and painful foot problems around.
Also known as onychocryptosis, there are a variety of ways an athlete could suffer from the problem.
Excessive pressure on the outside of the great toe, stubbing or having a toe stepped on, tight socks and shoes, even improper trimming of your nails can cause ingrown toenails.
The pain isn’t easy to deal with, as a soccer player is usually always on their feet.
With rugby, soccer, netball and tennis being a dynamic sport of rapid acceleration and changes in direction, kicking a ball, or landing on the toes with an ingrown toenail can be incredibly painful.
Along with soreness and sensitivity along the margins of the toenails, bacteria and fungi can easily infect the skin.
The foot’s warm and moist environment is a great breeding ground for a variety of infections.
The Podiatrist can treat an infected ingrown toenail immediately. Signs include a discoloured toe with discharge (watery, blood, pus). Any attempts at “home surgery” should not be attempted.
To prevent ingrown toenails, you want to protect the feet from trauma, avoid poorly fitting socks and shoes (too tight or too loose), and always make sure to trim your nails straight across with clippers to a comfortable length on a regular basis.
If uninfected, treat the feet by soaking them in either salt or warm soapy water. Drying them thoroughly, applying a mild antiseptic solution, and bandaging the toe will make a difference.
Visit The Podiatrist (www.thepodiatrist.co.nz)
What if you feet sweat and burn profusely? You wash them every day and change socks/shoes several times a day. You have tried every athlete’s foot remedy at doctor’s advice, and nothing works. What could this be?
This is a common problem seen during the winter months, especially in teenage boys. The hormones are working overtime, they are in thick socks and lace-up shoes for school and their feet are getting wet from the rain . Not to mention when they are playing rugby or soccer- the socks and boots get soaked.
Plantar hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessively sweaty feet. It is a common problem and rarely linked to any underlying disease.
It can be a significant problem, interfering with a person’s quality of life. Sweaty feet can become a breeding ground for bacteria and lead to significant foot odour as well as fungal skin infections that lead to a burning sensation of the feet.
The skin of the human foot can make more sweat per square inch than the skin of any other part of the body. This is because the skin of the foot has more
sweat glands per square inch than the skin of any other body part.
Moisture accumulation is most commonly associated with heating of the foot and poor ventilation of the shoe. In addition, it is normal for dead skin cells
to exfoliate or slough from the skin constantly.
The skin of the feet is no different from the skin of the rest of the body except that dead skin cells from the feet accumulate with sweat in a closed area. In this environment, fungi and bacteria that are usually present are able to grow and thrive. This overgrowth can lead to foul odours and burning.
Most foot fungi reside on the soles of the foot and between the toes. This is where one would expect most of the burning to be localized. Burning and itching of the feet is most likely due to skin infection with fungi.
This is more severe than the fungi simply being on the skin surface and is commonly referred to as athlete’s foot or Tinea Pedis. The skin can look relatively normal to the untrained eye.
Consider seeing a podiatrist to verify the diagnosis. For many there will be benefit from weeks of treatment with topical anti-fungal medication. Some will need prescription oral anti-fungal agents.
Stinky feet are caused by overgrowth of bacteria. Interestingly, a skilled diagnostician can identify the type of bacteria from the smell. Cheesy smells are linked to specific types of bacteria, vinegarlike smells to others and rotten garbage smells to yet other bacteria.
Some people report that a change in diet, while not affecting sweating, can reduce foot odour. They recommend a diet lower in processed carbohydrates and
higher in complex carbohydrates and higher in proteins.
Common measures should be taken to treat excessive sweating of the feet:
• Wash the feet daily with warm water and an antibacterial soap. Dry the feet thoroughly with a dry and soft cotton towel, especially between the toes.
• Use a shoe spray designed to reduce the smell and accumulation of bacteria and fungi. In severe cases, a trial of an underarm antiperspirant sprayed or
applied to the feet is reasonable.
• Use foot powder to dry the feet. • Wear thick socks, so they can absorb and wick away the moisture and help ventilate the feet.
• Use 100% cotton or 100% wool socks. Avoid, synthetic socks and stockings (polyester or nylon) as they can worsen the problem.
• Change socks several times a day.
• Wear shoes with adequate ventilation. Avoid plastic or nylon shoes. When not wearing shoes, let them air out in an area where dry air is circulating.
Serious problems that can cause excessive sweating and burning of the feet include diabetes with diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. A
physician can easily exclude these diagnoses.
Please consult a Podiatrist or other medical professional before undertaking any self diagnosis or treatment.
It is important to keep your feet clean and as dry as you can. However, the sole of the foot contains thousands of sweat glands so feet which have been kept hidden away in winter shoes and boots during cold and rainy days are prone to problems because warm, dark moist places encourage such as athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections and verrucas. On top of this, bacteria that cause smelly feet flourish on warm, moist skin.
Make sure your shoes and socks are made from natural fibres and try and let your feet ‘breathe’ as much as possible.
The simplest way to deal with sweaty feet is to use a foot powder or antiperspirant. However, this may be insufficient in some people who have truly sweaty feet and have a condition called hyperhidrosis.
The most important thing is to vary the type of shoe and heel that you wear in order to reduce the repetitive strain on any one particular area of the foot. A low-heeled shoe will help with Achilles tendon problems and also plantar fasciitis.
Heel pain (called plantar fasciitis) can be caused by summery shoes such as flip-flops or ballet pumps. If you suffer from any of these see your Podiatrist.
If you have bunions (an enlargement of tissue around the big toe) or hammer toes (when your second, third or fourth toes are permanently bent) winter shoes can be very unforgiving. If you are having regular problems seek advice from a Podiatrist who will be able to give you different treatment options, and recommend a surgeon if needed.
Thick cracked skin on the heels is very common and the best way to deal with this is to start off with a visit to your Podiatrist who will remove the hard skin, and then advise on a home maintenance regime, which will involve the use of a foot cream (Gehwol foot care products).
Home maintenance will also include regular use of pumice to keep the skin smooth. Make sure the foot is nice and dry and gradually file the skin. If you are diabetic the skin loses its ability to sweat which is very important in naturally moisturising your feet and preventing cracking. If you have also lost skin sensation, these cracks may not be noticed or healed and this can lead on to significant problems. In this situation it is essential that you see a Podiatrist (chiropodist) regularly for your foot care rather than taking it on yourself. This is also true if you have circulatory problems in your feet.
Make sure you cut your toenails properly as painful conditions can occur without care.
Keep your nails trimmed. Undercutting the end of the nail in this way increases the risk of the nail edge growing forward into the nail – a so-called ‘in-growing toe nail’. Cutting them too short also encourages this to occur.
Thickened, yellow, brittle nails are a sign of a fungal nail infection. Treating this infection can be very difficult and it is best to make sure that you get nail clippings sent off to the lab before starting any anti-fungals.
Identification of the exact cause and targeted anti-fungal treatment increases the chance of success but beware as this can take several months. Sweaty feet make this more difficult.
It’s a good idea to have a regular foot care routine to keep you feet healthy.
If you are diabetic, make sure you inspect them regularly, especially if you have lost the feeling in them.
Firstly wash your feet in warm water, preferably with an anti-bacterial soap. Make sure you dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes as the skin here is prone to a fungal infection called athlete’s foot. When dried, moisturise your feet.
Hard skin can be rubbed with a pumice stone when you are washing your feet. Severe hard skin on the sole is usually down to excessive pressure and you really ought to see a Podiatrist (chiropodist) to have this removed or protected with insoles.”
A verruca on the other hand has a dark centre and is more discrete. It is caused by the human papilloma virus.
Scaly, itchy feet can be due to athlete’s foot and it is actually quite common for this to be resistant to treatment with the standard over-the-counter preparations.
If this is the case you should see you GP as oral medications may be required.
Make sure that you treat your socks and shoes with powder as well as these can harbour the fungus and cause re-infection.
Please seek professional advice if you are diabetic, have circulatory problems, or want more information.