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Simple Tips to Eliminate Foot Odor

If you suffer from smelly feet, you know how embarrassing and uncomfortable it can be. Foot odor, caused by sweat mixing with bacteria on the skin, can make the air around you unpleasant for both you and others. While seeing a podiatrist can help diagnose and treat causes of excess sweating or infections, you can take matters into your own hands and make great strides in battling stinky feet right at home. With some diligent foot care, awareness of footwear choices, and the use of deodorizing products, you can freshen up those funky feet without taking a trip to the doctor’s office.

Wash Regularly and Dry Thoroughly

Fungi feast on damp, warm environments like the inside of a sweaty shoe. Make sure to wash your feet daily with antibacterial soap, getting between the toes where sweat and dead skin bacteria love to accumulate. Rinse thoroughly, and be sure to dry very well, especially between the toes. Consider using a hairdryer on a cool setting to get the skin totally dry. Read on for more thorough drying tips.

Rotate Your Shoes

Giving shoes a chance to fully dry out between wears helps prevent the insides from being a breeding ground for smelly bacteria. If you wear closed shoes daily, have at least two pairs and alternate wearing them. Leaving shoes to air out for 24 hours allows moisture to fully evaporate. Stuff them with antibacterial shoe inserts or even crumpled newspaper to aid drying and help them retain their shape.

Use Antifungal and Antibacterial Powders

Sprinkle antifungal foot powder inside your clean, dry shoes every day before putting them on. The powders contain ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil that create an inhospitable environment for fungi and bacteria that cause foot odor. A bonus benefit is that the cooling sensation of menthol powders feels great on hot feet! Before bed, puff the powder between your toes and on the soles of your feet too.

Wear Moisture-Wicking Socks

Change your socks at least once during the day, especially if your feet tend to sweat a lot. Choose socks made with moisture-wicking fabrics designed to pull sweat away from the skin rather than absorb it. Change them any time they become damp. Bringing an extra pair in your bag allows you to combat sweat before foot odor even has a chance to develop.

Disinfect With a Foot Soak

A regular footbath with antibacterial ingredients can work wonders at neutralizing odors and keeping fungi at bay. Make a strong brew of black tea (which contains tannins that inhibit bacteria growth) mixed with lemon juice and essential oils of peppermint and eucalyptus. Soak the feet for 15-20 minutes once or twice per week. The acidity of the lemon combats odor causing bacteria, while the oils help control sweat and foot fungi. After the bath, dry feet thoroughly, especially between toes.

Exfoliate With a Foot Scrub

To keep feet odor-free, practice good exfoliation. A weekly scrub removes layers of dead, sweaty skin cells where smelly bacteria can thrive unseen. Use a coarse salt or sugar foot scrub or a specialized foot exfoliator product available at pharmacies and beauty supply retailers. Always thoroughly rinse and dry the feet after scrubbing. Follow up with a light moisturizer so skin doesn’t crack.

Wear Breathable Shoes

For everyday wear, choose leather or mesh shoes over plastic or vinyl. Breathable materials allow sweat to evaporate rather than being trapped inside all day. Have different shoes suitable for warm vs. cold weather, and switch accordingly with the seasons. Wearing open backed shoes like slides or Birkenstocks when possible is another good strategy, just remember to wear clean socks!

Disinfect Shoes With Sprays or UV Light

When shoes have an odor that just won’t quit no matter how much airing out, disinfecting, and absorbing powders you use, antibacterial sprays can come to the rescue. Brands like Lumi Outdoors and Sof Sole make sprays designed to neutralize nasty footwear odors overnight. Using UV sanitizing devices designed for shoes can also kill germs and get rid of stubborn smells from your footwear when other methods fail.

Don’t Confuse Smell With Infection

Sometimes pedal discomfort like redness, peeling skin, oozing blisters etc goes hand-in-hand with foot odor. This likely signals a fungal infection requiring prescription medication, not just over the counter topicals. Other symptoms demanding a trip to the doctor include changes in toenails, development of warts or corns, uncontrolled sweating, or having no relief from odor with diligent hygiene measures. Don’t hesitate to see a podiatrist if good foot care isn’t making the stink go away.

Banish foot odor for good with better foot hygiene habits and the right arsenal of cleaning tools. Your nose, family members, coworkers, and anyone else who spends time in your airspace will thank you! With some diligence about drying, rotating shoes, using odor eliminating powders and sprays, and exfoliating away layers of dead skin, you can freshen up your funky feet without a doctor’s intervention.