Q: My feet stink — so bad that my wife actually threatened to leave me if I didn’t fix the problem. Seriously. I think she was joking, but then again, I can’t be sure. Is there anything I can do about it? Maybe if I understood why my feet smelled so bad in the first place, I would know what to do. So what gives?
A: “What gives?” I didn’t know people still used that phrase, but I nevertheless appreciate the mid-’90s reference that hearkens back to my days as a teenager. Truth be told, I know what your wife’s going through because my brother’s feet stink, too — and not in a good way. (There is no good way for feet to stink, is there?) The truth is that our feet usually smell worse than any part of our body, no matter whose body they’re attached too. So — what gives?
The main reason our feet smell so bad is because of sweat. But doesn’t every part of our body sweat, you ask? That’s true, but not every part of our body is covered by socks and shoes all day. See, our hands sweat just as much as our feet do, but unlike hands, our feet are all covered up all day long so the sweat can’t evaporate. It just … sits there. But sweat itself doesn’t smell. It’s the bacteria that are feeding on all that sweat that excrete the delicious odor you smell every time you take your shoes and socks off at the end of a long day.
So what can you do about it?
Well, there are a few things. First, you can make sure that the shoes you wear are well-ventilated. That means, avoid those comfy, cozy well-insulated boots. Next, make sure that you are wearing clean cotton socks that will absorb as much sweat as possible. Nylon socks or socks made from other synthetic materials don’t absorb as much sweat and can actually cause your feet to sweat more. Note that I also mentioned the word clean. Make sure you don’t pick up yesterday’s socks from the floor and slip them back on (even though it’s tempting and easier than going to your sock drawer). If you’re really lazy in the morning, try leaving a clean pair of socks in your shoes for the next day so you’re all set. If you sweat a lot during the day, it might even help to change your socks once or twice during the day.
Also, make sure that you rotate the shoes you wear and try not to wear the same pair of shoes many days in a row. This will give your shoes a chance to breathe and dry out from the day before.
Next, make sure that in the shower, you’re washing your feet well. This doesn’t mean that you’re just letting the clean soap and dirty water run down your body and expecting it to clean your feet. This means actually scrubbing your feet with soap.
Some people swear by using anti-perspirant on their feet. This will reduce the amount your feet sweat in the first place, but there are definitely downsides to using traditional anti-perspirant.
If you’re willing to try some natural home remedies, check out this site. If all else fails, I would suggest going to see a doctor. Better get rid of those smelly feet before your wife gets rid of you — you know what I’m saying?
Photo: j.huck 6/Flickr