If you suffer from smelly feet, you know how embarrassing and uncomfortable it can be. Foot odor, clinically known as bromodosis, is a very common problem caused by bacteria thriving in the warm and damp environment inside shoes. While there are prescription treatments available, you can banish stinky feet with some simple at-home remedies. With a little diligence about foot hygiene, you can say goodbye to foul foot funk for good.
Practice Proper Foot Hygiene
The first key to reducing excess foot odor is practicing proper foot hygiene. Wash your feet daily with soap and water, cleaning between the toes thoroughly where bacteria tends to accumulate. Be sure to rinse and dry completely, especially between the toes. Consider using an anti-bacterial soap or one with tea tree oil to help inhibit bacterial growth.
After washing, spray or powder your feet with an over-the-counter antifungal spray powder containing ingredients like zinc oxide or tolnaftate. These help keep your feet dry and less hospitable for odor-causing bacteria.
Wear moisture wicking socks made of natural materials like cotton to soak up sweat and change them at least once a day. Consider sleep socks to keep feet clean at night. Avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row to prevent bacterial overgrowth. Giving shoes at least 24 hours to dry out helps diminish the bacteria colony.
Soak Your Feet
Foot soaks are an easy DIY home remedy for smelly feet. Soaking feet helps soften calluses and wash away bacteria. For an antibacterial foot soak, dissolve some black tea bags in warm water in a basin, letting them steep for 5-10 minutes to release the tannins. The tannins in black tea have antibacterial properties to combat foot odor.
For an antifungal soak, dissolve a cup of white vinegar in a basin of warm water. Let your feet soak for 15 minutes to kill any fungus lurking between the toes. Vinegar’s high acidity makes it challenging for fungi and bacteria to thrive. Not fond of vinegar’s strong smell? Soak feet in warm water with several drops of tea tree oil instead. Its powerful antiseptic qualities inhibit bacterial and fungal growth.
You can also alternate soaking one foot at a time in a basin of cool, diluted bleach water. Add 1⁄2 cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Soak each foot for 10 minutes to kill odor-causing germs and bacteria. Avoid overuse of bleach though, as this can dry out skin. Be sure to rinse and dry feet well after any soak.
Sprinkle With Baking Soda
Baking soda is a refrigerator and gym bag deodorizer, as well as a handy, inexpensive foot odor remedy. Its alkaline properties inhibit bacteria and fungus growth, the culprits behind smelly feet. Lightly dust baking soda into clean dry feet after your post-shower wash or nightly soak. Pay close attention between the toes where moisture gets trapped.
To make baking soda even more effective, stir a few drops of tea tree, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil into a cup or two of baking soda until clump-free. These essential oils have natural antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial powers. Sprinkle this enhanced baking soda onto clean dry feet daily after showering or bathing. Don an old pair of socks and lounge around the house for 30 minutes to let baking soda and oils work their magic. The socks gently exfoliate any dead skin cells too. Rinse feet and pat dry before putting on regular socks and shoes.
Applying over-the-counter antiperspirant to clean dry soles can help curb sweat, the catalyst for bacteria and foot odor. Look for an aluminum-free natural deodorant containing ingredients like magnesium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate or zinc oxide to neutralize odor and inhibit bacterial growth. Spray, roll or rub a thin layer of antiperspirant all over feet, especially between the toes before bed. This helps block sweat production at night while sleeping when feet are prone to getting clammy.
Crushed mint leaves are a fragrant home antiperspirant option. Place a few handfuls of fresh mint leaves in a mortar and grind gently with a pestle until paste-like and fragrant. Massage the paste all over feet. The natural menthol has a cooling effect to lessen sweating, while the aroma helps mask foot odor. Rinse in the morning. Dabbing rubbed alcohol between the toes is another DIY antiperspirant trick, as it kills odor-causing bacteria on contact while drying sweat.
Consider Prescription Antifungal Treatment
While maintaining good foot hygiene, soaks and natural treatments may be enough to combat mild foot odor, recurring or extreme cases may require medical intervention. See your doctor for a diagnosis. They can prescribe a daily oral antifungal medication like terbinafine to treat a severe fungal infection contributing to foot odor. For excessive foot sweating, you may benefit from prescription-strength antiperspirant or Botox injections to block overactive sweat glands.
Clip Toenails Straight Across
Ingrown toenails encourage bacterial growth and provide odor hideouts. To prevent ingrown toenails, be sure to trim toenails straight across, avoiding rounding at the edges. Disinfect nail clippers after each use to avoid transferring bacteria or fungus from foot to foot. After trimming nails, gently scrub debris out using a nailbrush and antibacterial soap, particularly under nails where grime collects. Rinse and dry thoroughly. File any rough edges with an emery board.
Consider Zinc Supplements
Research shows that taking zinc supplements may reduce foot odor. Zinc’s antimicrobial properties make it more challenging for the bacteria linked with excess foot odor to thrive. When bacteria ingest zinc, it interferes with their metabolic system and inhibits growth. Taking zinc supplements for foot odor relief requires diligence and patience though, as it may take up to three months to start working. Always consult your doctor before starting supplements.
Banish foot odor for good with proper foot hygiene habits, home remedies like foot soaks and antibacterial powders, and seeking prescription treatment for severe cases. Say goodbye to smelly feet forever using these simple steps. With diligence combatting sweat, bacteria and fungus, your feet – and those around you – will breathe easy.