By: Caitlin Boyle
My son’s sweet little feet practically beg to be tickled and kissed. But after a long session on the playground, those cute little tootsies smell like they belong to a teenager … a hulking, hormonal teenager who forgot to change his socks after football practice. Did I say I want to kiss my son’s little toes? Because what I really meant was I need to dunk that kiddo’s feet in the tub!
Keep Your Feet Smelling Fresh
There are more sweat glands on the feet than anywhere else -- even the armpits. When sweat glands in your feet release moisture, the whole area becomes a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. Your feet are more likely to sweat if it’s warm outside or if you’re exercising, standing up for a long time, under stress or going through hormonal changes (e.g., during puberty or pregnancy). To keep the smell at bay, no matter the circumstance, follow these expert-approved tips:
1. Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry your feet at least once a day (don’t forget the areas in between your toes!).
2. You can also swipe or spray normal underarm deodorant/antiperspirant on the bottom of your feet to reduce sweating and odor.
3. The type of shoe you wear makes a big difference, too. Closed shoes, like boots, will probably be the smelliest because of the lack of air circulation. When possible, wear open-toe shoes or sandals, and look for athletic shoes with mesh venting on the sides.
4. Wearing a fresh pair of socks every day will make a big difference. Cotton, wool or sweat-wicking socks will help draw the moisture away from your skin.
5. Don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row; this allows each pair enough time to fully dry out. “Let your shoes breathe at the end of the day,” says Bryan Gothie, Senior Product Manager at New Balance. Pull the tongue back and expose as much of the inside as possible, and remove the insert so it can dry out on its own.
6. Keep your shoes in a dry, cool environment. Storing an already damp item in a humid environment will only encourage the return of the funk, Bryan also notes.
7. If you’re tempted to toss your smelly shoes in the wash, proceed with caution. “It really depends on the shoe,” says Bryan. “I wouldn’t recommend putting leather-based shoes through the wash, but anything made from a natural material, such as canvas, should be OK.” You can also wash the shoes by hand and let them dry out in the sun.
When to See the Doc
It’s important to note that there are some medical conditions that can cause smelly feet. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot can make your feet smell, and conditions like hyperhidrosis, which causes excess sweating, can exacerbate the issue. If you follow the recommendations above and still suffer from smelly feet, it’s time to consult your doctor.
is a professional blogger, motivational speaker, and author of the book Healthy Tipping Point: A Powerful Program for a Stronger, Happier You. She helps her husband run a holistic health clinic in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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