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McDowell Podiatry
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Foot Odor – Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Many of the conditions we treat for our patients here at McDowell Podiatry Group involve pain or impaired function of feet or ankles. However, other issues cause embarrassment and self-consciousness that can decrease quality of life, especially a problem like smelly feet that takes away your desire to hang out with friends and family. We want you to feel comfortable doing the things in life you want to do. It can help to understand the reason for this problem and foot odor treatment that can help.

smelly shoes and feetCauses of Foot Odor

It is common to associate feet with unpleasant aromas, but this is not because feet have some inherent smell to them that we find to be rather pungent. Instead, most cases of odiferous feet come from bacteria that digest and breakdown sweat, thereby releasing the foul odor. Given that your feet are usually covered in layers of socks and shoes, you can see how easily moisture can be trapped inside and become an ideal environment for those bacteria (which often thrive in warm, damp, and dark environments).

In addition to sweat, other causes of foot odor include medication, alcohol and drugs, stress, poor hygiene, hormone changes, and infections.

Treating Foot Odor

This is certainly an embarrassing condition, but the good news is that it is not permanent and can be successfully treated. Many of the methods used to treat the condition are also ones that can be taken to prevent it from happening, like using disinfecting sprays or switching to socks and footwear that enable the feet to breathe.

Some home remedies worth trying include soaking your feet in various solutions—tea, saltwater, sodium bicarbonate—to care for the odorous feet. Be sure to consult with our podiatrists here at McDowell Podiatry Group for specific recommendations, because some treatments may dry out the skin on your feet.

For severe cases, your best bet is to make an appointment with our office for prescription-strength products. In rare instances, particularly with cases of hyperhidrosis, we may recommend a surgery that cuts the nerve responsible for regulating sweating as a means to reduce the levels of sweat that cause the issue.

How to Prevent Foot Odor

As with any condition, including those that are more severe in nature, prevention is the best practice. While there are clearly ways to treat the issue, it is simple better to avoid it in the first place. Fortunately, there are a variety of tactics you can use to prevent foot odor:

  • Use mild soap and warm water to wash your feet every day.
  • Keep your toenails maintained with proper trimming practices.
  • Wear fresh, clean socks daily, preferably those made from synthetic blends that wick moisture away.
  • As much as possible, keep your feet dry.
  • Choose footwear made from material that allows your feet to breathe.
  • Alternate between two different pairs of shoes every other day, thus allowing each pair to have 24 hours to completely dry out between uses.
  • Use either baking soda or a disinfectant spray in your shoes to eliminate bacteria.
  • Wash your socks inside out to better remove dead flakes of skin that would otherwise reside inside them.

Complete Foot and Ankle Care in Carmichael, CA

Foot odor is embarrassing and can be rather unpleasant, so we understand that you want to take care of the condition, but be sure to consult with our office first. Some foot odor treatments for this problem can lead to skin that is excessively dry, which can then be the root cause of other issues.

Whether you need care for smelly feet or have a serious medical condition that causes pain or impairs your ability to perform daily activities, McDowell Podiatry Group is here for you. Contact us today by calling (916) 961-3434, or fill out our online form to schedule your appointment with our Carmichael, CA podiatrists.

Dr. Brian McDowell
Dr. Brian McDowell, board-certified podiatrist, provides cutting-edge foot and ankle care in Carmichael, CA.