Stinky Feet Solutions
Stinky feet. So embarrassing. Like when you go over to someone’s house and you’re asked to take your shoes off and you’re thinking, “Uh-oh!” Our hoofs work hard, so it’s not surprising they do a little sweating. We all get the smellies, but some of us worse than others. The obvious remedies include not wearing your three-year-old sneakers without socks. Some swear by socks made with silver, which supposedly fights bacteria. Others suggest sprinkling stuff like dried sage in your shoes or soaking your feet in tea or vinegar. People who take the constitutional approach are convinced stinky sweat is a sign of a digestive system on the fritz.
What the experts say
“Feet stink because of odour-causing bacteria that thrive when sweaty feet are stuck in a warm, dark environment. The bacteria can then grow in the shoes, making the situation worse. Ventilate your feet frequently, washing or wiping them a couple of times a day with a tea-tree-oil-based cleanser. If possible, you can also wash the insoles of some shoes. A great natural remedy is to combine baking soda and cornstarch with a few drops of tea tree, lavender, rosemary or thyme essential oil. Sprinkle this powder into shoes or around toes once or twice a day.”
– CARRIE WATKINS, naturopath, Toronto
“There are lots of sweat glands in the feet. Feet also have apocrine glands, thought to secrete pheromones, though they’re not as plentiful as sweat glands. These can make you stinky. If you really are debilitated by the sweat, the best option is to stop the sweating by putting Botox in the feet. There’s more science behind Botox than there is behind silver. You can try topical solutions of aluminum chloride, which are used in antiperspirants. Your menstrual cycle affects your sweat glands as well.”
– DR. LISA KELLETT, dermatologist, Toronto
“There are a number of reasons why people have stinky feet: a fungus infection between the toes or poor hygiene. I don’t know whether soaking your feet in tea or vinegar works. There aren’t any studies. Silver is anti-bacterial – it’s used for wound care. It does work. For fungus on the nail, use pure oregano oil; coat it on the nail.”
– ANDREW KLAYMAN, podiatrist, Toronto
“Silver is a natural anti-microbial agent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral. Prior to the advent of antibiotics, it was used for strep throat. With modern day advancement in nanotechnology, we can now break elements down into very fine particles and control their release rate. It allows silver to be used as a topical agent. We incorporate silver into our regular shoe material, called Croslite. It absorbs no water, unlike shoes made of leather or fabric. The minute you take your shoes off, they dry out.”
– EDDIE SCOTT, general manager, professional footwear division, Crocs, Boulder, Colorado
“Good digestive health is important. Your body eliminates wastes through your gut and skin. Your feet tend to be more susceptible to sweating, so that’s where the waste is eliminated, causing odour. Drinking water, keeping your bowels regular and wearing breathable socks can all help, as can eliminating food sensitivities, sugary foods and alcohol. Also you may have a zinc deficiency. To help while you reset your digestive tract, bathe your feet with water, a few tablespoons of vinegar and baking soda.”
– MUBINA JIWA, naturopath, Toronto
“Stinky feet can be a guiding symptom in choosing a constitutional homeopathic remedy specific to the person that stimulates the body to heal itself. When feet have smelly perspiration, there are usually toxins being released in the body. Perspiration shouldn’t be smelly or shouldn’t stain clothing. Perhaps you need to look at the ability of the liver to detoxify, or at gastrointestinal health.”
– ZORANA ROSE, naturopath, Toronto
– From “Alternative Health: Fighting foot reek” by Elizabeth Bromstein, NOW Magazine, 2011.