It’s a problem just about everyone has experienced at one time or another – smelly feet (bromodosis). Mild instances of foot odor are usually caused by moisture from sweat that contributes to bacterial growth. Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) and other types of fungal infections can also produce odorous feet. Even tootsies that are well-cared-for can let off a scent that’s anything but rosy. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to handle or minimize issues with foot odor.
1. Don’t Ditch the Socks
Feet contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body. All types of socks, even ones made of breathable fabrics, soak up excess foot sweat and prevent an abundance of bacteria from gathering. Socks made with synthetic fabrics or wool blends are especially effective at absorbing sweat. Just remember to wear a fresh pair each day. Change your socks more often on days when it’s hot or you’re doing activities like working out or exercising that generate more sweat production.
2. Treat Your Feet to a Tea Bath
For times when your feet are really reeking, treat your tootsies to a soak in water with black tea for about 20 minutes. It’s the acids in black tea that kill the microbes that contribute to foot odor. Components in black tea also close pores, which can help your feet stay drier. Add one or two teabags per pint of water. Let it cool down before you soak.
3. Spritz Your Feet with Anti-Fungal Spray
If you have an ongoing issue with foot odor or recurring fungal or bacterial problems, use anti-fungal spray to keep microbes at bay. It’s best to spritz your feet before you put your shoes and socks on for the day. Anti-fungal powders can be equally effective if you don’t want to use aerosol spray.
4. Rotate Your Shoes
You don’t wear the same clothes every single day, so why do this with your shoes? If you consistently wear the same shoes, your foot sweat and any lingering microbes can become embedded in the materials in your shoes. It can also be helpful to relegate certain shoes for work and others for exercise, sports, and working out.
5. Let Your Feet Breathe
Going sockless is a no-no. However, it can actually be good for your feet if you have moments when they go bare. For practical purposes, the best place to do this is at home where you’re more likely to have surfaces that are safe to walk on while barefoot. Ditching socks and shoes whenever possible helps minimize foot odor by allowing fresh air and oxygen to naturally fight fungi and bacteria.
Even some of the foods you eat may contribute to foot odor. Salmon and tuna, broccoli, red meats, beer, tea, and coffee, and other sulfur-rich foods, for instance, can produce particularly potent odors when feet sweat. As for what foods may make your feet more pleasant, consider adding mint, peppermint, parsley, and other herbs and zinc-rich foods like dark chocolate to your diet.