Having stinky feet can be embarrassing and frustrating. Foot odor, also called bromodosis, is very common and happens when sweat mixes with bacteria on your feet. The bacteria break down the sweat and cause an unpleasant smell. While you can’t eliminate foot sweat entirely, you can take steps to control odor and keep your feet fresh. Here are some useful tips for getting rid of foot odor for good.
Practice Proper Foot Hygiene
The first key to reducing foot odor is practicing proper foot hygiene. Make sure to wash your feet daily with soap and water. Pay close attention to cleaning between the toes where bacteria tend to accumulate. Trim your toenails regularly to avoid jagged edges that can harbor germs. Exfoliate your feet once or twice a week with a scrub brush or foot file to slough off dead skin cells. This prevents buildup of calluses which can lead to more bacteria growth. Dry your feet thoroughly after washing, especially between the toes. Dampness encourages bacterial overgrowth.
Wear Clean, Breathable Socks
Wearing clean, moisture-wicking socks daily is imperative for minimizing foot odor. Choose socks made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, or bamboo that allow ventilation and absorb sweat. Avoid socks made of synthetic fabrics which trap heat and dampness. Make sure to change your socks at least once a day, or more often if you have excessive sweating. Having multiple pairs of rotation gives socks time to fully dry out before wearing again. Also, replace old worn out socks regularly.
Use Antiperspirants and Deodorants
Special foot hygiene products can help reduce sweating and neutralize odors. Look for antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride or other active ingredients that curb perspiration. Apply antiperspirant spray or wipes to clean feet at night before bed.
Foot powders and deodorant sprays are also very useful for odor control. They contain anti-fungal agents as well as baking soda or activated charcoal to absorb moisture. Sprinkling foot powder inside shoes and socks helps keep feet dry. Spraying deodorant on feet and in shoes freshens things up. However, don’t rely solely on masking fragrances. Make sure to treat the root cause of odor as well.
Alternate Your Shoes
It’s ideal to alternate between at least 2 pairs of shoes daily. Letting shoes fully air out between wears prevents moisture buildup inside which creates the perfect environment for bacteria. Consider getting shoes made of leather or mesh which allow more ventilation. Avoid plastic and rubber materials that retain heat and sweat. Also, skip wearing the same shoes 2 days in a row to give bacteria less chance to thrive.
Use Shoe Deodorizers
Shoe deodorizing products help eliminate odors between wears. Foot powder sprinkled inside shoes absorbs moisture and prevents bacterial overgrowth. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that neutralizes odors. Simply place boxes or sachets of baking soda in shoes overnight or between wears. Activated charcoal shoe inserts also absorb odor-causing sweat and moisture. UVC shoe sanitizers use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and fungi inside shoes.
Soak Feet in Vinegar
White vinegar is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. Soaking your feet in a vinegar bath can help control odor-causing germs. Mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water in a basin. Soak your feet for about 15 minutes daily. The acetic acid in vinegar kills bacteria and removes dead skin cells. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil boosts the antimicrobial benefits. Just don’t soak your feet too long to avoid drying your skin.
Apply Antibacterial Treatments
Over-the-counter antibacterial ointments, creams and sprays can be applied to your feet to reduce microbes. Look for ingredients like chlorhexidine gluconate, alcohol, and tolnaftate which have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Apply treatments especially between the toes where foot odor often starts. However, avoid overusing harsh chemicals which can irritate skin.
Get Antimicrobial Insoles
Insoles infused with antimicrobial ingredients like silver oxide, activated carbon and baking soda help prevent odor inside shoes. They create a hostile environment for bacteria, absorbing sweat and neutralizing odors. Look for insoles with moisture-wicking fabric layers as well as cushioning for comfort. Replace insoles every 3-6 months once antibacterial properties start to wear off.
Use Antibacterial Foot Spa Baths
Specialized foot bath tubs allow you to soak your feet with antimicrobial solutions. You can add essential oils like eucalyptus and mint to refresh your feet. Soaking feet for just 20 minutes can eliminate odors while softening calluses. Foot spas with water jets provide massaging action to boost circulation and skin cell turnover too. They help wash away dead skin cells where smelly bacteria accumulate. Just be sure to disinfect your foot tub regularly.
Change Your Diet
Certain foods in your diet can contribute to foot odor. Limit eating onion, garlic, spices, and heavily processed foods which can get excreted through your sweat glands. Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins as well. Antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, veggies and green tea may help reduce foot odor from inside your body. A balanced diet supports healthy bacteria on your skin.
Try Medicated Insoles
Insoles containing medications like clotrimazole and butenafine hydrochloride can treat fungal infections causing foot odor. These prescription shoe inserts release medicine as you walk that disrupt fungal cell walls. Using them for several weeks can eliminate fungal overgrowth between the toes that creates stinky feet. However, see a doctor first to determine if fungal infections are the culprit.
See a Podiatrist
For chronic foot odor that doesn’t resolve with self-care, make an appointment with a podiatrist. They can assess your feet, determine any underlying causes and provide prescription-strength treatments. This may include medicated creams, oral antifungal medication or even laser treatments to eliminate bacteria and fungi. Custom orthotic inserts may be prescribed to deal with issues like excessive sweating. See a doctor if simple home remedies aren’t getting rid of your foot odor.
In summary, defeating foot odor requires attacking it from all angles. Proper hygiene, moisture-wicking socks, antimicrobial treatments and shoe hygiene products all work synergistically to create an environment hostile to odor-causing bacteria and fungi. Controlling sweat and buildup of dead skin cells also minimizes food sources for microbes. With diligence, you can successfully banish foot odor and feel confident being shoeless. Just be patient and stick with a foot care routine that keeps your feet fresh.