Physical activity or day-to-day tasks can keep you on your feet all day. All this movement may be healthful, but one negative byproduct may be foot odor. Excess foot sweat or even certain shoe materials can be the cause.
“Some of the main reasons for foot odor are increased perspiration, electrolyte imbalance, shoes made of non-breathable materials, hormonal changes, poor hygiene, and fungal or bacterial infections,” said Dr. Dalia Krakowsky Clausen, a Marshfield Clinic podiatrist.
Poor nutrition also can be a factor. Eating unhealthy foods or certain processed foods can create an unsavory odor.
Sweating is a normal body function and usually not cause for concern. However, hyperhidrosis, or sweating too much, can be. Feet that sweat in a shoe that is not breathable can create an environment prone to malodor.
Dr. Krakowsky Clausen offers several ways to help rid unwanted foot odor.
1. Start with good hygiene.
“Make sure to wash your feet one to two times per day,” Dr. Krakowsky Clausen said. “Make sure your feet are also dry after showering or bathing.”
2. Use an antiperspirant.
These products can be purchased over-the-counter or your doctor can prescribe one.
3. Pay attention to your shoe and sock choices.
Wear shoes made of breathable materials to help reduce foot sweat and try wearing cotton socks, too.
4. Treat foot fungal and bacterial infections.
You can try over-the-counter products or talk with your doctor about prescribed medications for these conditions.
5. Talk to your doctor if odor worsens or is not resolved with home remedies.
Dr. Krakowsky Clausen suggests seeing your doctor if there are other signs like open lesions or sores on your skin, or if you develop a fever or feel sick or have associated medical problems like diabetes or cancer.