Foot perspiration is a normal bodily function, but that can cause unpleasant odours. Find out how to remedy the problem.
What causes foot odour?
Feet sometimes sweat, which can result in an unpleasant odour. It’s a natural occurrence. Because the feet are among the areas of the body that sweat the most, it’s normal for sweat to sometimes remain trapped inside shoes and socks.
Sweat in itself doesn’t smell that bad; however, when it remains trapped inside shoes and socks, this warm and moist area promotes the proliferation of germs (most often fungus or bacteria). It’s the combination of sweat/germs that causes the unpleasant foot odour.
There are many elements that can contribute to unpleasant foot odour, including:
- poor foot hygiene
- wearing wet or humid footwear
- wearing socks or shoes made of synthetic materials
- practising intensive sports or physical activities
- hereditary factors (familial predisposition)
- wearing shoes for long periods of time
Some individuals are affected by excessive sweating called hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis of the feet may promote the development of unpleasant odours.
Foot perspiration can sometimes be a contributing factor to certain conditions such as plantar warts, nail diseases, and mycosis (fungal disease) commonly called athlete’s foot.
What can you do about foot perspiration and odour?
The best way to prevent excessive foot perspiration and odour is to adopt healthy habits in terms of foot hygiene. Here are a few tips on the matter:
- Wash your feet regularly once or twice a day as needed. Make it a habit to soak your feet in tepid water instead of washing them quickly in the shower. Use antibacterial soap or a gentle cleanser. Soaps specially designed for foot care are available on the market.
- Carefully dry your feet with a soft towel and pay special attention to the areas located between the toes.
- Always wear clean socks and change them at least once or twice a day. Choose socks made of natural fibres, such as cotton, which will allow your feet to breathe. Wash your socks in hot water to eliminate germs. If the socks become humid, change them right away.
Here are some additional practical tips:
- Choose footwear that fits comfortably and that isn’t too tight. Replace shoes when they are damaged or show signs of humidity. In summer, or whenever possible, try walking barefoot or wearing open sandals—this will help eliminate sweat from your feet.
- If your shoes are humid or wet, let them dry before wearing them again. This may help reduce odour, but you may have to discard shoes that have become wet. Some shoes or boots can be washed, others cannot.
- You should own several pairs of shoes—this enables you to wear them alternately, allowing them to dry before you wear them again.
- Put anti-odour insoles in your shoes, which are designed to absorb perspiration and odours.
- Air out your feet as often as possible.
Who should you talk to for solutions?
If you have tried several measures to solve an odour problem or any other foot problem, it could be beneficial to see a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a specialized foot health professional. However, your pharmacist can also give you advice, especially regarding products available at the pharmacy.
In more serious cases, for instance, if you suffer from hyperhidrosis, or if you have unusual symptoms affecting your feet, consult a doctor.
What are the products available on the market to prevent moisture and eliminate a foot odour problem?
Here are some examples of products you can find at the pharmacy to fight moisture and foot odour:
- Talcum powder or deodorizing foot powder
- Shoe deodorizing spray
- Foot deodorizing spray, aerosol, gel or cream
- Antiperspirant or antibacterial foot cream
- Absorbent and anti-odour insoles
Aluminum chloride-based solutions you can apply on the soles of the feet are also available at the pharmacy. These products are very effective in reducing perspiration. They are sold without a prescription, but they are kept behind the pharmacy counter. Your pharmacist can recommend the one that is most suitable for you and how to use it.
Don’t let foot odour and moisture cause you embarrassment. Your feet are too important not to take care of them!