By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Do you notice people quietly leaving the room when you take off your shoes and put your feet up at the end of the day? Or not-so-quietly complaining about that cheesy smell coming from your direction? Smelly feet are a common problem but no one wants to be the cause of such a stink. Smelly feet can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for you and those close to you. Anyone can suffer from smelly feet, a form of body odor medically known as bromhidrosis. But why do your feet smell so much? Is there anything you can do to stop your feet from smelling?
Why Do My Feet Smell?
The stinky odor coming from your feet is caused by sweat. We have more sweat glands in our feet than anywhere else, so it's not surprising that sweat often causes a problem for our feet. But sweat on its own doesn't normally cause a stink. Your feet become smelly when the sweat soaks into your shoes or socks and doesn't dry out properly. If you sweat a lot, you are also more likely to have smelly feet because the moisture doesn't get a chance to evaporate. When your feet are continually moist bacteria grows and continues to breed on your skin. A cheesy, pungent odor is released as the sweat is broken down by the bacteria.
Who Suffers Most From Smelly Feet?
Anyone can give off a whiff of foot odor at any time of the year but certain conditions and circumstances can increase the chances of smelly feet.
Teenagers and pregnant women sweat more because of hormonal changes and their feet are more likely to smell. Your feet are more likely to sweat - and therefore more likely to smell - if you are on your feet all day, or if you are under excessive emotional or physical stress.
Smelly feet often accompany hyperhidrosis - a condition marked by excessive sweating from the palms, armpits and feet. And the fungal infection commonly known as athlete's foot is another condition that doesn't make feet smell too good.
We've looked at all the causes of smelly feet to give you the scientific lowdown on the best remedies for foul-smelling feet. Put your best foot forward and step into a sweeter-smelling future with these foot odor beaters.
1. Hyperhidrosis and Smelly Feet - New Cure
Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition causing excessive sweating that can make life difficult and embarrassing.
Excessive sweating can cause excessive foot odor when the moisture isn't allowed to lift away from the skin.
According to experts, Botox can be used as a remedy for excessive sweating on the feet or hands. Botox brought uncontrollable sweating of the hands under control in a 2008 study from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Philadelphia for example.
2. Thyroid Problems Can Cause Smelly Feet
It seems an underactive thyroid -called hypothyroidism-can also cause smelly feet. A 2012 study from Hamdard Institute of Medicine Sciences and Research in New Delhi, India reported the case of a 35-year old man with hypothyroidism whose symptoms included severely swollen feet and an unusual odor coming from his feet.
The team noted that "the abnormal smell coming from his feet was largely ignored by most of his earlier treating doctors".
Try acupuncture to speed up the metabolism and the production of thyroid hormones. A 1993 study from the Shanghai Medical University in China studied a group of 32 people who took Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment to stimulate the kidney meridian, which seems to improve symptoms of an underactive thyroid.
3. Try Tea Tree Oil for Smelly Feet
One of the common causes of whiffy feet is athlete's foot. This is the common name for fungal infection between the toes and is also called ringworm. Athlete's foot results in scaling, blistering and itching around the toes and the sides of the feet and when the skin cracks it can lead to bacterial infection, and a resulting smell. Tea tree oil is one of the best treatments for athlete's foot, according to experts. A 2002 study from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, New South Wales, Australia showed tea tree oil solution was more effective than placebo at treating athlete's foot, especially at a concentration of 50 percent tea tree oil.
4. Change Your Shoes Every Day to Prevent Smelly Feet
In order to beat smelly feet, make sure the sweat has a chance to fully dry out - the key is to give your shoes the chance to air and dry before you put your feet back into them. Wearing a different pair of shoes on successive days allows them to completely dry out, preventing problems with bacteria.