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Got Smelly Stinky Feet? Causes, Home Remedies and Treatment Before and While You Travel

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Do people hold their noses when you kick off your shoes?  Smelly feet aren’t fun for anyone, especially on a plane or in a hotel room or car.  Don’t worry! There are plenty of solutions to prevent and treat your feet from smelling foul.

Medically known as bromodosis, stinky feet are a common year-round problem.  The main cause is sweaty feet combined with wearing the same shoes every day.

What Causes Smelly Feet?

Anyone can have sweaty feet, regardless of the temperature or time of year. But teenagers and pregnant women are especially prone because hormonal changes make them sweat more.

Other causes of sweaty feet are:

  • Being on your feet all day
  • Being under a lot of stress
  • Fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot
  • A medical condition called hyperhidrosis where you sweat more than usual

According to podiatrists, feet become smelly if sweat soaks into shoes and they don’t dry before you wear them again.  Bacteria on the skin break down sweat as it comes from the pores and an odor is released as the sweat decomposes.

Your feet sweat into your shoes all day so they get damp and bacteria start to grow. The bacteria continue to breed once you’ve taken your shoes off, especially if you put them in a dark closet. Then later, even if you’ve just bathed, putting your feet into those still damp shoes creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive: a warm, dark and moist environment.

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How to Treat Smelly Feet

  • Wash your feet with an antibacterial soap once a day WE PREFER HIBICLENS WHICH IS USED IN HOSPITALS
  • Dry your feet well after they have been wet, especially between your toes
  • Try not to wear the same pair of shoes 2 days in a row so they have at least 24 hours to dry out
  • Change your socks (ideally wool or cotton, not nylon) at least once a day
  • Keep your toenails short and clean, and remove any hard skin with a foot file (it can become soggy when damp, which provides an ideal home for bacteria)

Home Remedies for Stinky Feet

  • Instead of powder, try dusting your feet with bicarbonate of soda, which neutralizes odor, and cornflour, which absorbs moisture. For extra odor-busting power, add a few drops of essential oil to the powder of your choice. Cypress, patchouli and peppermint not only smell good, but are antibacterial and antimicrobial.
  • Mix Epsom salts with warm water in a bucket or an old baking dish or basin. Soak your feet for about 15 minutes twice a day. The astringent Epsom salts will help to reduce sweating and may kill bacteria. WE LIKE TEA TREE OIL MIXED WITH EPSOM SALTS WHICH YOU CAN BUY BY CLICKING HERE
  • Lavender oil not only smells wonderful, it can also help to kill odor-causing bacteria. Rub a few drops of lavender essential oil onto your feet and massage it in before you go to bed at night. Cover your feet with socks. Before trying this remedy, check to make sure that the oil will not irritate your skin by putting one drop on a small area.  BUY LAVENDER OIL BY CLICKING HERE
  • Try a black tea footbath. Simmer 2 tea bags in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Let cool. Remove the bags and dilute the tea with 8 more cups of water, then soak your feet for 30 minutes. Repeat every day. The tannic acid in strong black tea kills bacteria and closes pores to help your feet sweat less.
  • Make a quick and easy odor-fighting foot soak simply by adding a cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water. For more odor-fighting force, add a few drops of thyme oil (or a product that contains it, such as Listerine mouthwash). The oil contains a strong antiseptic that kills odor-causing bacteria. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes a day for a week. CAUTION: Do not use this remedy if you have any open sores or broken skin.
  • After a bath or shower, blow-dry your feet with a hair dryer set to its lowest temperature. This is especially good advice if you are prone to athlete’s foot or nail fungus since it helps to prevent infection and reduce moisture.  CAUTION:  This is not recommended if you have numb feet for any reason, such as diabetes.

How to Prevent Smelly Feet

  • Maintain excellent foot hygiene by doing the treatments listed above regularly
  • Use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR FAVORITE FOOT ANTIPERSPIRANT – CARPE Antiperspirant can also help if you’re prone to developing blisters!!!
  • Put medicated insoles, which have a deodorizing effect, into your shoes BUY DR. SCHOLL’S ODOR-X INSOLES BY CLICKING HERE
  • Use a foot powder to absorb sweat (a pharmacist can advise you about foot powders)
  • Use socks for sweaty feet – some sports socks are designed to keep feet dry, or you can get special antibacterial socks BUY COPPER ANTIBACTERIAL SOCKS BY CLICKING HERE
  • Change your socks more than once per day
  • Wear leather or canvas shoes, as they let your feet breathe, unlike plastic ones
  • If you have sports shoes, you may be able to clean them in the washer
  • Use charcoal activated shoe sachets which work best for sweaty feet odors BUY BAMBOO CHARCOAL BAGS BY CLICKING HERE
  • Make your own sachets with clay-based cat litter inside old socks to put into your removed shoes at home
  • Store your shoes in a bright place at home
  • Always wear socks with closed-toe shoes
  • At home ditch the slippers and give your feet a chance to breathe while walking around barefoot
  • If you have removable insoles in your shoes, remove them when you are at home to dry

When to See a Medical Provider

Smelly feet are a harmless problem that generally clears up. Sometimes, however, it can be a sign of a medical condition.  If you have ongoing redness, swelling, weeping, pain or sores see your medical provider immediately.

See your medical provider if simple measures to reduce your foot odor don’t help, or if you’re worried that your level of sweating is abnormally high.

Remember, if you have questions related to your health, always consult your doctor or medical professional. The information presented here is informative only and is not medical advice.

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About the Author Michelle

I am a travel maniac! Because I travel so much around the world, I look for solutions to make my travel easier. I get asked all the time about the travel gadgets I use or my recommended items. It makes me happy to share these things with you to make healthy and meaningful travel happen!

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