Some people may think they are more prone to foot odor than others but the fact is, It’s often a matter of lifestyle choices— such as footwear, frequency and method of bathing, hanging out in damp areas where fungi can breed, or sweating heavily in shoes that can’t breathe.
The medical term for foot odor is bromodosis and even though it’s a favorite topic for locker room jokes, our clinical team (DeSoto, Sunnyvale or Dallas) sees cases every day that don’t fit this pattern. The reason young men seem unduly affected by the stinky-feet syndrome is they tend to wear the same sneakers (and socks) day after day, and they sweat.
There are medical causes as well as habits for stinky feet. We all have an abundance of sweat glands in our feet. Teenagers and pregnant women, whose hormone levels are high, are apt to suffer from this embarrassing condition. Stress is another trigger, causing the sweat glands to overproduce. Infections such as athletes foot can also cause foot odor.
Some people— especially the young— wear the same shoes every day and perspire, then take them off without drying them and slip into the same shoes the next day. Certain bacteria feast on the sweat, and it’s the sweat breaking down that is the source of that sour odor.
There are some simple rules to practice to avoid having stinky feet:
- Alternate your shoes so they have at least 24 hours to dry out
- Wash the feet and dry them every day, thoroughly
- Wear clean socks (cotton or wool are preferable to synthetics) every day
- Buy an antiperspirant for your feet or ask the doctor for a prescription for a fungicide
- Wear open shoes or sandals in warm weather
If you don’t see an improvement within a week or two, make an appointment to see one of our staff (we have offices in DeSoto, Sunnyvale and Dallas). You may have an infection such as Athletes Foot that requires medical attention.
Smelly Feet Are No Joke
There are inherited conditions— one in particular called hyperhidrosis— which usually affects males. Stress is another factor (have you noticed how some people sweat when they are nervous?). Certain medications can also produce excess perspiration. Inadequate fluid intake can contribute to foot odor; make sure you are well-hydrated, especially during physical activity.
When you make an appointment to meet with our staff, we’ll examine your feet for infection. Although there are topical treatments for athletes foot and toenail fungus, they can be unreliable because the medication may not reach beneath the surface of thickened skin or nails.
Laser nail fungus treatment uses a laser light that gently warms the skin beneath the nail bed. This guided heat treatment kills fungi without damaging the nail. Because toenails grow very slowly— about one inch in eight or nine months— you won’t see results immediately in terms of healthy nails. However, you may notice an improvement in the odor associated with fungal infections.
You Don’t Have to Live With Stinky Feet
Foot odor is not life-threatening but it ranks among the most embarrassing ailments, especially for young people and professionals. Just when life is most exciting and challenging, and it’s critical to one’s self-image to make a fine impression, foot odor rears its ugly head.
Despite the locker-room jibes and casual insults, stinky feet can be a miserable fact of life for someone who’s dealing with it. Young women in the dating game, older men who need to make a good impression, active professionals who are shy about engaging in weekend sports with their peers, and high-school athletes are all at risk.
If you or someone you love is suffering from this common but very treatable, embarrassing yet easily correctable syndrome, call one of our clinics in Dallas, DeSoto and Sunnyvale and ask for a medical evaluation.