How to prevent smelly feet?

Bromhidrosis is when there is an abnormal or foul body odour AKA BO.  Hyperhidrosis is when there is excessive sweat. There are 2 main type of sweat glands:

1) Eccrine glands are found all over the body and will naturally persperate/sweat a salt solution with an increase in body temperature. Eccrine sweat is usually odourless but can start to smell if bacteria break down the salt solution producing waste hence a stench is formed.

2) Apocrine glands are only produced around the underarms, groin and breast regions. The odourless sweat similar to eccrine glands that can start to smell as the bodies natural bacteria breaks down to fatty acids and ammonia. Apocrine glands also secrete a chemical that contains distinct personal scent AKA pheromones.

A pair of feet has approximately 250000 sweat glands! As your feet produces sweat throughout the day it gets trapped within your shoes, over the bacteria breaks down inside your shoes as you place them on the next day the shoe/insole will make your feet smell even though your feet are clean.

It can be embarrassing to have smelly feet, which I have personally experienced previously before graduating as a podiatrist.

Here are some tips to help prevent and improve the odor of your feet/shoes.

1) Wash your feet daily morning and night with anti bacterial soaps from the local chemist. Do not forget to dry the whole foot especially in between your toes.

2) Ditch all your smelly socks and start again or use an anti bacterial washing solution.

2) Change your socks 2-3 times daily to reduce moisture and use antibacterial or more breathable materials such as bamboo, wool and cotton instead of nylon or polyester which can make the feet sweat more. Never wear a pair of socks unless washed previously.

3) Change your insoles if they are removable with a antibacterial insole which may assist. If the shoe does not have a removable insole dispose of the shoe.

4) UV shoe sanitisers are little machines that can be placed inside a shoe to emit ultraviolet light to kill bacteria.

5) Purchase shoes that are made of mesh or genuine leather not synthetic leather. Open toe shoes such as sandals can also help during the warmer months.

6) Rotate your shoes daily so excess moisture does not build up within the shoe.

7) Use a foot antiperspirants that have aluminum chloride hexahydrate which may assist with sweaty feet. There are also sprays for shoes to reduce odours.

Get in touch with one of our podiatrists from Sydney or Melbourne. We can help you and your sweat/smelly feet and manage other skin conditions.

Written by Podiatrist Richard Ching

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Derrick Wong