foot odor

Photo credit: 123RF / jackethead

We’ve all known someone who has stinky feet. Heck, even you have probably had foot odor at some time or another. Foot odor can happen to anyone, but teenagers, pregnant women, the elderly, people with heart disease or diabetes, and people under a lot of stress are more likely to have stinky feet.

Foot odor is caused when sweat mixes with bacteria on your skin. Generally, our feet have over 250,000 sweat glands that can produce a pint of moisture a day. However, some people have more sweat glands than the average, causing them to sweat excessively.

Sweat itself is odorless, but when it mixes with bacteria, a bad smell is produced. While only a few types of bacteria will live on our feet, we can have hundreds of millions of bacteria on our feet at any given time. These bacteria love the warm, moist environment that our socks and shoes provide, and they like to feast on our feet’s dead skin cells.

While you may think, yuck, how do I get these bacteria off of my feet, foot bacteria are actually necessary to keep our feet healthy. They produce oils that keep our skin soft, and they create enzymes that break down dead skin. They help prevent calluses and dry, flaky areas. Also, they protect our feet against microbial pathogens that cause disease.

Determining Health through Foot Odor

The bacteria on your feet produce distinctive chemicals that cause different types of foot odor.

  • Sweaty – Produced by isovaleric acid. Our noses are more sensitive to this chemical.
  • Cheesy – Produced by methanethiol which also creates the flavor in cheddar cheese.
  • Vinegary – Produced by acetic acid which is the result of sugar fermentation.
  • Cabbage-y – Produced by propionic acid and butyric acid, byproducts associated with rot.

To determine if your feet have the same good microbes working for you, you can do a smell test. If your feet smell the same as they always do, then the bacteria are the same. However, if the smell is different – yeasty, grape-like or acrid instead of sour, it could be a warning sign of an infection. See your doctor for proper treatment if one of these smells occur.

How to Prevent Foot Odor

While friendly foot bacteria are healthy, the smell from bacteria and sweat can be overpowering for you and others. However, there are some things you can do to help control the odor.

  • Wash your feet with antibacterial soap and water every day. Make sure to thoroughly dry your feet, especially between the toes.

    foot odor

    Photo credit: 123RF / Phanuwat Nandee

  • Try soaking your feet in water mixed with either Epsom salts, tea or vinegar.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed.
  • Spray your feet with an antiperspirant to stop excessive sweating.
  • Spray your shoes with an athlete’s foot spray powder. Or, sprinkle baking soda or talcum powder in them. You might also want to trying using cedar chips in your shoes when not wearing them.
  • Wear fresh socks made of breathable materials like cotton.
  • Wear shoes made of breathable materials like leather or canvas to allow the sweat to evaporate.
  • Don’t wear the same shoes every day.
  • Don’t wear shoes without socks. Sweat can accumulate in your shoes, causing bacteria to grow.
  • Wash your athletic shoes to get rid of odors. Just make sure they’re completely dry before you wear them again.

If these remedies don’t work, you should see your doctor. He can recommend other treatments.

ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics for Foot Comfort

While custom orthotics, like ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics, can’t prevent or curb foot odor, they can help reduce or eliminate any foot pain you may be experiencing from foot conditions. ezWalker® Custom Orthotics are custom-made to the biomechanical needs of your feet. They provide the arches of your feet with the proper support they need to realign your gait to the right way to walk. You’ll also experience better balance and stability with each step you take.

ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics are ultra thin and ¾ length, so you wear them in most shoes – from work boots to athletic shoes to dress shoes. So you’ll save money. Order your ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotics from the WalkEZStore today.

Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.