Posted by: Footsy | 2004/09/30

Smelly feet

What can I do to stop smelly feet and shoes as a result of having smelly feet?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImagePharmacist


Feet mostly smell as a result of sweating inside footwear. The sweat along with bacteria (which produces a smelly by-product called isovaleric acid) cause the smell. "Scientists estimate that an average foot produces a quarter cup of sweat per day. When the temperature rises or the person is active, as much as a cup of liquid can be created. All
this sweat and the protein that accompanies it from dead skin cells can feed six trillion bacteria. Just as such bugs are responsible for the distinctive aroma of Limburger cheese, so too the flora and fauna that live on the feet can create some pretty strong smells. Control the sweat or kill the bacteria and you can banish the odor."

A number of preventative steps may help control most cases of smelly feet :

Good foot hygiene will reduce bacteria to low levels and this would be a good place to start:
• Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water with a mild soap and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
• Change your socks at least once a day (change your shoes as well if you do sweat a lot).
• Dust your feet frequently with a foot powder (always wipe beteen the toes to remove excess moisture, so that it does not 'clog' between the toes).
Wear thick, soft socks to help absorb the moisture. Natural fibre socks such as wool or cotton and other absorbent materials are better.
Avoid the use of nylon socks or plastic shoes - wear shoes that are made of leather, canvas, mesh or other materials that let the feet breathe.
Its is best not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row - they need time to dry out. Remove the innersoles from to help with the drying.

If the preventative measures above for foot odor do not help, then further investigations by a health professional and more aggressive management may be indicated. Stronger medications (eg aluminum chloride solution or even an antiobitic) may be prescribed. One person suggested an over-the-counter antibacterial ointment like Neosporin to be applied overnight. Some doctors prescribes an erythromycin suspension (125mg/5 ml) to be rubbed on the feet every night for 10 days. Others in the know says ‘Don’t stink—take zinc!’. Usually 50 to 100 mg per day will solve the problem in less than 30 days.” However, it's not recommended to exceed the high dose of 100 mg daily or the treatment period of 30 days. Another recommended treatment is the so-called "Tea Treatment" for
Sweaty Feet. Steep 5 tea bags in half litre of boiling water for 10 minutes, allow the solution to cool and soak feet 30 minutes. This should be repeated daily.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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