Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

Helpful Ways To Deal With Foot Odour

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Embarrassing Ailments / Health and Wellbeing /

feetFoot odour is a common problem but one which can cause a lot of embarrassment. Not only is it unpleasant for you, but it can sometimes be difficult to hide from the people around you. The good news is that it can most often be tackled and prevented by incorporating a few simple habits into your everyday routine.

What Causes Foot Odour?

Sweaty and smelly feet are so common because there are more sweat glands in our feet than anywhere else in the body.  Feet begin to smell when bacteria on the skin breaks down sweat as it comes from the pores, causing an unpleasant smell as it decomposes.

Unlike the sweat glands in the rest of the body, those in the feet often secrete sweat for no reason, rather than just in response to heat or exercise, so anyone can get foot odour at any time. However, sometimes foot odour can be attributed to these habits:

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Wearing the same shoes every day – the sweat soaks into the shoes and you wear them again before they’re dry
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes

How Can You Prevent Foot Odour?

The best way to prevent smelly feet is good personal hygiene. Wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes. Damp feet are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria – this is why you also need to avoid wearing the shoes that are still slightly damp from the previous day’s sweat. Wear clean socks every day and, if possible, don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. Cotton socks are preferable over nylon ones because the natural fibres are better at allowing moisture to evaporate.

If you’re particularly prone to smelly feet despite good personal hygiene, try the following:

  • After a shower or bath, dab between your toes with cotton wool dipped in surgical spirit, in addition to towel drying your feet. Surgical spirit helps to dry out the skin between the toes.
  • Use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet. A normal underarm one will work just as well as a specialist foot product.
  • Wear sports socks with ventilation panels which are designed to keep the feet dry, or antibacterial socks which contain odour-discouraging chemicals.
  • Wear leather or canvas shoes, which let the feet breathe more than other materials do.
  • Put medicated insoles in your shoes – these have a deodorising effect.
  • In the summer, wear open-toe sandals or go barefoot at home.

How is Foot Odour Treated?

When foot odour can’t be prevented, there is an easy way to get rid of it. Simply wash your feet with an antibacterial soap. There are plenty available at your local chemist that are designed specifically to tackle foot odour.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Make an appointment with your GP if all of the above measures do nothing to reduce your foot odour, or if the level of sweating seems abnormally high. Your doctor may offer you a strong prescription antiperspirant or refer you for a treatment called iontophoresis, which involves the delivery of a mild electric current through water to your feet.

However, these more powerful treatments are only necessary in very few cases. Most people can avoid foot odour with good hygiene and smart choices regarding footwear. Just remember to look after your feet the same way you look after the rest of your body.

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Posted by The Best of Health

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