The average human foot, scientists tell us, produces about one-quarter cup (60 ml) of sweat each and every day. By the end of 12 hours of wearing tight-fitting shoes, that's like irrigating hundreds of billions of bacteria and yeast with a good soppy splash of water to encourage them to eat, drink, reproduce, and produce smelly feet. So how can you stop them from stinking up your shoes?
Although there are home remedies to stop your feet from sweating that I'll list in a moment, your first line of defense against foot odor is to treat your shoes, not your feet. Let them "breathe" and dry out every other day. In summer, wear sandals, as long as they are not made of "jelly-like" plastic. In winter, wear washable shoes that you can launder to cut down the number of bacteria that cause foot odor. Store shoes in mesh bags, not plastic, and don't keep outside a gym bag or dance bag, not inside.
The secondline of defense against foot odor is to treat your feet. You don't have to start with a prescription. I'd go with foot powder first.
Sprinkle either plain old baking soda or any over-the-counter foot powder on the feet before putting on socks. The powder absorbs moisture before it can nourish bacteria.
Two other home remedies for foot odor that really work are tea and Epsom salts.
The principle behind using tea (that's on the foot, not in your stomach) is that the tannins in tea "tan" the skin on your foot so it does not leak perspiration quite as fast. You can make a soak from 5 family-sized bags of black tea (although green tea would also work) in a quart (about a liter) of hot water.
Steep the tea for 10-15 minutes and then allow it to cool to room temperature. Pour the tea into a large flat pan and then immerse the feet for half an hour.
Do this every other day for a week and sweating should diminish. You still have to have clean shoes to avoid foot odor, but reducing perspiration also helps. The downside of using tea is that it can stain your feet brown (and the walnut hulls recommended by some herbalists will make your feet even browner). But if that's a problem, you can use Epsom salts.
Add a handful of Epsom salts to a flat pan of warm water, and immerse feet for 30 minutes.
There's no scientific explanation of why this should work. It just does.
But if soaking feet is not your thing, consider deodorant. Any deodorant that contains aluminum chloride will knock out pedal perspriation fast, and the limited circulation to the foot means it is far less likely to be absorbed into the body.
Spray deodorant applied to the foot may also relieve the sting of minor insect bites.
You may have heard that urinating on the feet stops foot odor. By this, I mean urinating on the feet in the shower and then rinsing the urine off before drying feet and putting socks and shoes on. There's some scientific sense behind the method, because urea (found in urine) does kill some kinds of fungus that live on the feet. It's not high on my list of home remedies, although it may work. Feel free to comment if you've tried it.
Another folk remedy for smelly feet falls under the heading of "don't stink, take zinc." This may work for you. Just be sure not to take more than 100 mg of zinc a day, and take a zinc formula that's mixed with copper and other trace minerals.
Finally, as a last resort, there is always prescription medication for extremely sweaty feet. In the US, the best known medication is Drysol. Its chemical name is aluminum chloride hexahydrate, and it's just an especially potent antideodorant. Drysol can cause foot irritation. If this happens, wash it off the feet before going to bed at night and reapply in the morning.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Will soaking my feet in black tea stain them?
A. A little, which won't be noticeable unless you have unusually fair skin. It may take 3-5 days to fade.Could An Apple a Day Keep Alzheimer's Away?
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Q. Would green tea also relieve foot odor?
A. Yes, and it's less likely to stain.
Q. Are there any stained feet remedies?
A. Is there a home remedy that takes a stain off your foot? Anything that moisturizes the skin will accelerate recovery from a stain, but anything that would take it out immediately would also injure your skin. If you are going to use a moisturizer on your feet, just make sure feet, socks, and shoes are kept extremely clean, to keep bacterial growth to a minimum.