Patient Education

Foot Odor and Smelly Feet

Fungal problems can cause foot odor and smelly feet. Since the feet are frequently exposed to moisture due to sweating and wet weather conditions, fungal infections are common. Chronic foot odor can signal an infection or heavy perspiration or sweating of the feet.

Fungal infections like athlete’s foot can be prevented by the following suggestions:

  • Wash and dry feet thoroughly, taking extra care to dry between the toes.
  • Use powder to keep the feet dry.
  • Keep socks and footwear clean and dry; socks can be changed several times daily.
  • Wear footwear made of breathable materials that allow air to circulate around the feet; constricting footwear, stockings, and socks can trap moisture and perspiration on the feet.
  • Never share socks or footwear.
  • Do not use someone else’s foot hygiene instruments, such as emery boards, nail clippers, or foot files
  • Do not walk barefoot in public areas such as showers, pools, and locker rooms; instead, wear plastic flip-flops, slides, or shower shoes.
  • Sweaty feet can be treated with a black tea foot soak: Using two tea bags per pint of water, brew strong black tea by boiling it for 15 minutes; add two quarts of cold water; and soak the feet for half an hour daily for seven days in a row. The black tea contains bacteria-destroying acids and also shrinks pores, which can help keep perspiration at bay. Vinegar foot soaks are also effective: Mix one part vinegar with two parts cool water and soak.

A podiatrist can prescribe ointments to apply to the feet at bedtime. There are also medical treatments such as iontophoresis and surgical procedures that can control extremely sweaty feet.

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