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Foot Odor

Foot Odor and Smelly Feet

The feet and hands contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body (about 3,000 glands per square inch). Feet smell for two reasons: you wear shoes and your feet sweat. The interaction between your perspiration and the bacteria that thrive in your shoes and socks generates the odor. Any attempt to reduce foot odor has to address both your sweating and your footwear.

Smelly feet can also be caused by an inherited condition called hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, which primarily affects males. Stress, some medications, fluid intake and hormonal changes also can increase the amount of perspiration your body produces.


Footwear for Teenagers

Consider the Activity

Basketball shoes are different than ballet shoes for a reason. Sports-specific shoes help protect against injury by providing appropriate support. Basketball shoes, for instance, provide extra ankle support, because the movements from side to side that are typical in basketball put strain on the ankles.


Get Fitted

If you need an athletic shoe, visit the New Balance shoe store located in The Woodlands at 10686 Kuykendahl Rd. The associates there can help you find a shoe that’s appropriate for your foot, the way you walk, and your sport. Look for a shoe that fits your foot, but don’t get hung up on size. Shoe sizes, like clothes sizes, can vary from brand to brand. You want a pair of shoes that fits comfortably on the first try. Your feet are not usually the same size. Make sure that you always buy shoes based on your larger foot’s size. You should never have to break-in a pair of athletic shoes.


Check for Support

The best shoes support your foot, front and back. Backless shoes actually alter the way you walk, and that can cause foot injuries and discomfort down the line. You don’t have to give up your flip-flops; you just shouldn’t wear them all the time. Look for shoes that are stiff in the middle, but bend at the ball of the foot. High heels are OK for special occasions. Consider selecting platform or wedge heels instead of stilettos.


Watch for Signs of Wear

When your shoes start wearing out, it’s time for a new pair. Check the tread and midsole, the cushiony part just before the sole. If the shoe displays signs of uneven wear, it’s time to look for a new pair of shoes. Athletic shoes should be replaced yearly; running shoes should be replaced every 300–400 miles or so.


At Neville Foot and Ankle Centers, we offer an experienced team of medical and surgical specialists of the foot and ankle. As licensed podiatrists, we believe our patients deserve to have the information necessary to make good choices about their foot and ankle care.

About 25% of us have issues with foot odor, according to an American Podiatric Medicine Association survey of 1,700 adults. The key to eliminating foot odor is good foot hygiene.

Wash Your Feet Daily: Keep your feet scrupulously clean. Use warm, soapy water and wash your feet every day, says Langer. Scrub gently with a soft brush, even between your toes, and be sure to dry your feet thoroughly. 

Use Powder: After washing, apply foot powder or cornstarch to help sweating feet stay drier, says Langer.

Sprinkle Your Shoes: Another good method to avoid hot, sweaty feet is to treat your shoes—sprinkle the insides with talcum powder or cornstarch, says Suzanne M. Levine, DPM, PC.

Use An Antiperspirant: The key to controlling odor is to use either an antiperspirant or a deodorant on your feet. You can buy specialized foot deodorants or simply use your underarm brand. Deodorants eliminate odor, but they don’t stop perspiration however. Antiperspirants take care of both problems. Look for products that contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate. *Don’t use an antiperspirant if you have athlete’s foot.

Change Your Socks Often: Always wear clean, dry socks. Change them when they get sweaty—as frequently as necessary—even a few times a day.

Avoid Cotton Socks: Cotton holds moisture next to the skin and can make foot odor worse.. Wool is a better choice because wool fibers wick moisture away from the skin. Synthetic fibers also have wicking properties.

Show Shoe Sense: Closed shoes can aggravate sweaty feet and set up a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Choose sandals, open-toe shoes, and those with mesh uppers when appropriate, but stay away from rubber and plastic shoes, which don’t allow feet to breathe easily. 


Give Them A Day Off: Never wear the same shoes two days in a row, says Levine. Air them out. It takes at least 24 hours for shoes to dry thoroughly.

Sun Your Shoes: Exposing the insides of the shoes to sunlight can kill some of the fungus and bacteria that cause foul odors, says Langer.

Stay Cool: The sweat glands in your feet, like those in your armpits and palms, respond to emotions, says Richard L. Dobson, MD. Stress can trigger excessive sweating. That, in turn, can increase bacterial activity in your shoes, leading to extra odor. So try not to get frazzled. 

Watch What You Eat: As bizarre as it may sound, says Levine, when you eat spicy or pungent foods (such as onions, peppers, garlic, or scallions), the essence of these odors can be excreted through the sweat glands in your feet. So, yes, your feet can end up smelling like dinner.


The Foot & Ankle Doctors of Texas are dedicated to the highest levels of care and education. Our passion for helping our clients get back on their feet is unmatched!

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