Dreadful Foot Doctor Topics: Dealing with Sweaty, Smelly Feet

Today we wrap up our three-part series on “embarrassing foot problems people hate to discuss with their doctors” with a foe perhaps more humiliating than toenail fungus and athlete’s foot: sweaty, smelly feet! While there are several potential reasons why your feet may smell worse than other people’s, one common cause is excessive sweating. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, less than 40% of the people with this problem seek medical care for it. We are conditioned by society to feel that foot odor is a biological problem that we’re born with, when in reality, it can be addressed medically.

smelly feet

Do your feet smell worse than other people’s? You can address that condition by visiting a podiatrist.
Image Source: Flickr user Everjean

Embarrassing Foot Problem #3: Sweaty, Smelly Feet

What it is: Did you know… 10 to 15 percent of the population is affected by a type of bacteria called Micrococcus sedentarius This type of bacteria produces more than the usual stinky organic acids. They emanate volatile sulfur compounds that are just downright awful smelling… much like a rotten egg!

Where it comes from: You can think of sweat as the food and fuel for the bacteria on your feet. In the right sort of damp environment, the bacteria really gorges itself and begins releasing toxins all over the place to make a more potent stench. If you address the sweating and limit the amount of bacteria your feet come into contact with, then your foot odor problems will likely clear.

What it looks like: Foot odor has no visual appearance, but doctors can take a swab of your feet and look under a microscope to identify which type of bacteria may be causing all the ruckus. There is also a powder test podiatrists do to determine if your feet sweat excessively or not.

What it feels like: Do your feet often feel wet in your shoes? Does the smell of cheese fill the room when you remove your shoes? Are you embarrassed to take your shoes off at friends’ homes? The social stigma of smelly feet can be very depressing — and depression can be a contributor to foot odor, so it becomes a vicious cycle!

Why you should treat it: Why live with something that causes such stress in social situations? Besides, foot odor can be a sign of a bacterial or fungal infection that should be treated to avoid more serious complications.

How it’s treated: Just as there are deodorants for underarms, there are roll-on antiperspirants that can be applied directly to the feet. Podiatrists can recommend special prescription antiperspirants made for the feet, specifically. Botox injections are another way to temporarily control excessive sweating (for six to nine months per injection). Severe cases of foot sweating can be treated with a surgical procedure called sympathectomy, which stops the nerves from signaling the excessive need to sweat.

When it goes away: Unfortunately, foot odor is often a chronic problem. It can be managed or treated more permanently with surgery. Sweat isn’t always the problem, though. Sometimes the stink comes from bacteria and requires shoe treatment. We’ve got just the solution for that!

The good news: Genetics can contribute to foot odor, but your genes are not the sole cause — which means that foot odor is a treatable offense.

The Problem of Chronic Foot Odor

It is best to attack chronic foot odor on all fronts. Your daily regimen should include the following:

1. Wash your feet with antibacterial body cleanser, taking care to dry thoroughly (especially between the toes).

2. Apply an anti-fungal foot powder to the feet, which will absorb sweat and add a light, pleasant scent.

3. Put your feet into natural fiber socks, so the sweat will dry quickly — rather than saturating the fabric.

4. Wear breathable shoes like mesh athletic trainers or leather, rather than canvas or plastic.

5. Spray your footwear with a deodorizer to freshen the scent and mask odor.

6. Change wet socks or pantyhose mid-day.

7. Alternate shoes every other day to allow adequate drying time.

8. Enjoy a nice foot soak in the evening to unwind and neutralize odors.

9. Apply antiperspirant to the soles of your feet at night to reduce daytime sweat.

10. Treat your shoes with ultraviolet light to kill active, excreting bacteria.

How to Treat Persistent Shoe Odor with SteriShoe UV Shoe Sanitizer

The SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer was designed for chronic sufferers of toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, diabetic ulcers, and shoe odor. We help to make the practice of better foot hygiene easy with a shoe treatment that eradicates up to 99.9% of the harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses in your footwear in just 45 minutes. Run your shoes through a cycle daily for the best results. Users have noticed that our ultraviolet device also helps dry out damp shoes. Try our podiatrist-recommended shoe sanitizer for 30 days, risk-free!