What causes stinky feet? If this question sounds familiar to you, then you might have experienced this common problem at some point in your life. In this article, we’ll discuss what causes stinky feet, girl’s stinky feet, and look at some of the many ways in which you can fix the problem.
What Causes Stinky Feet
The most common causes of stinky feet are excessive sweating and the associated excessive growth of bacteria, but improper diet can as well cause foot and general body odor.
The problem typically begins with wearing shoes for long, more so, if they don’t allow adequate ventilation of the feet.
While it appears logical to think that the armpits and the genitals as the areas of human body with the highest number of sweat glands, the feet in reality have the highest number of sweat glands in the body.
Sweating and Bacteria
Each foot has over 250,000 eccrine sweat glands. These glands secrete up to 7 pints of sweat per foot every day. This can go higher depending on the weather. For example, in summer, it is expected that the feet might sweat more. The degree of sweating also varies from one person to the other.
It is estimated that about 1% of all human beings suffer from a condition known as hyperhidrosis which is characterized by excessive sweating. If you have ever shaken hands with someone only to be left with beads of sweat in your palm, then you know what I mean.
The sweat produced by sweat glands in the feet is usually light and evaporate easily, so it is normally not a cause of concern in as far as odor is concerned. If however a person wears closed shoes for extended periods of time, the rate of evaporation of the sweat produced by the feet can decrease.
The wetness that results on the feet creates a favorable environment for rapid growth of the bacteria that are naturally found on the skin as part of the human flora. These bacteria usually feed on the dead cells on the skin of human feet.
The bacteria typically breaks down the amino acids present in the dead skin cells and in the process release foul smelling by-products such as propionic acid, methanethiol gas and isovaleric acid. When produced in high amounts, these by-products result in the problem of stinky feet.
The two most notable bacteria found on the skin of the feet and usually linked to stinky feet are Brevibacterium linens and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The former produces methanethiol gas has sulfur like smell similar to that of rotting cabbages or eggs while the latter produces isovaleric acid as a by-product.
These bacteria thrive best in warm, moist environments such as the one found in sweaty socks. Wearing socks made of synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon can exacerbate the problem of stinky feet. This is because such materials are usually less effective in absorbing sweat. This leaves the skin exposed to high levels of moisture which is favorable for growth of bacteria.
Other Causes Of Foot Odor Are:
Diet: excessive consumption of foods with high sulfide content can as well lead to foot odor. Zinc deficiency has been shown to leads to foot odor. People who consume lots of fatty, spicy foods are also likely to seat more and this can make them more prone to foot odor.
Certain medications: medications such as Naproxen and Acyclovir are also known to cause more sweating and can trigger the problem of stinky feet.
Stress: stress has also been lined to an increase in sweating which can also result in foot odor.
Poor personal hygiene: this is one of the most common causes of stinky feet. Failing to change and wash socks regularly can lead to a build up of bacteria leading to foot odor.
Girls Stinky Feet
Is it normal for girls to have stinky feet? Yes, girls also experience foot odor, depending on the type of shoes they put on and the length of time they have them on. Girls who engage in sports are also subject to more seating and will naturally experience smelly feet.
What to Do about Stinky Feet – How to Fix Stinky Feet
Wondering how to fix stinky feet? Well, fixing stinky feet revolves around reducing bacterial growth and minimizing the level of sweating. Bacterial growth can be reduced by exfoliating the feet with a wash cloth or brush to get rid of dead skin cells, washing the feet with an antibacterial soap or cleanser, and by using a foot odor spray. Using a baking soda bath or warm salty water can as well help.
You can as well fix the problem of stinky feet by controlling the degree if moisture in the feet. One way to do this is to use foot odor sprays (sometimes referred to as odor-eater sprays). These are typically antiperspirants, deodorants or both. Anti-perspirants control the production of sweat while deodorants mask body odor.
Using appropriate socks that are made of coarse, good absorbing materials such as cotton or wool is also an excellent way to manage foot sweat and thus fix the problem of foot odor. Above all, the ideal shoes should be as breathable as possible, for example, leather is a good option, but plastic is not.
We have already discussed ways to prevent foot odor and home remedies for stinky feet in more details elsewhere in other articles.
Stinky Feet and Athletics
People engaged in athletics event are more prone to smelly feet than those who don’t. It is naturally expected that such people will sweat more. The wetness in their shoes and socks create a favorable environment for growth of bacteria.
They can however minimize foot odor by using socks made of thick, absorbent materials, preferably cotton. Athletes should also try to change their socks daily and washing their shoes regularly. Using a shoes drier to rid their shoes of moisture after athletic games or practice is also great for getting rid of shoe odor.
Suggested Further Reading
- Foot Odor – Causes, How to Stop, Home Remedies, Foot Spray
- How to Get Rid of Smelly, Stinking or Shoe Odor, Shoe Deodorizer
- How to Get Rid of Stinky Feet – What to Do, Treatments, Cures & Home Remedies
- How to Cure Stinky Feet & Home Remedies for Stinky Feet
- How to Get Rid of Foot Odor – Remove, Cure & Remedies