The weather in Georgia is heating up, so it's time to talk about foot odor, a common problem in the hot, humid summer in Powder Springs! Now, when your feet smell, you may not care what's causing the odor. You probably just want to improve their smell, quickly. But sometimes, in order to banish foot odor for good, we need to uncover (and address) the root cause. So, today, we're identifying the main causes of smelly feet, and providing solutions to keep them dry and fresh, all season long.

What Causes Foot Odor? Feet peeking out from under a blanket

If your feet or shoes don't smell their best, here are some of the most likely causes. 

1. Sweaty feet

When sweat forms on your feet, it comes with bacteria. So, if you don't quickly wash and dry your feet, that bacteria will break down both your sweat and your skin cells, creating foot odor in the process.  As such, if sweaty feet are the cause of your odor issues, you may improve their scent by fighting moisture (more on that below), cleaning your feet regularly, and changing out of moist socks or shoes into dry ones as soon as possible.

2. Shoes That Wear Out Their Welcome

Did you know that your shoes can absorb bacteria, sweat, and odor from your feet? And, if that happens, they can contribute to foot odor? Well, it's true, so to keep your shoes from making your feet stink, allow them to dry out in fresh air after each wearing. For added protection, consider giving your shoes at least one day off between wearings.

3. Stressful Situations

When you're under pressure, your feet (and the rest of you) are likely to sweat more and smell worse. So, if you know that you'll be in a tough situation, consider packing yourself an extra pair of socks for the day. That should help keep your feet dry and odor-free.

4. Hormonal Changes

Shifting hormone levels can increase sweatiness in your feet, while worsening the resulting foot odor. As such, during times of major hormonal shifts, such as pregnancy, your feet may smell worse than normal. Just cut yourself some slack and be prepared to wash your feet more frequently.

5. Foot Infections

Often, patients who come into our office complaining of foot odor have toenail fungus or an athlete's foot infection. So, by treating their crumbling nails or itchy, scaly rashes, we can also improve the scent of their feet and help them walk more comfortably.

How Can I Prevent Foot Odor? 10 Simple Tips

Now that we've reviewed some of the main reasons why your feet may smell, you may be thinking: I'm in the clear! None of these factors apply to me! However, foot odor can strike at any time or place, even to people who are really on top of their hygiene practices. So, to prevent smelly feet from taking you by surprise, make sure to follow these odor-fighting rules from your podiatrist in Powder Springs.

1.     Always wear your closed-toed shoes with socks.

2.     When selecting footwear, look for natural materials such as canvas, leather or even mesh, since these allow your feet to breathe and prevent the build up of stinky sweat.

3.     If your feet get sweaty from sports play or a long walk in the heat, change into dry socks and shoes as soon as you can.

4.    About those sweaty shoes...before wearing them again, allow them to dry outdoors, or in a sunny spot inside your home. Do you wear custom orthotics with your shoes? Make sure to remove them from your sweaty kicks, allowing them to dry on their own so that they don't retain bacteria and cause foot odor the next time you wear them.

5.     Even if your feet don't sweat, make sure to wash them every day with soap and lukewarm water. Once you're done, dry feet thoroughly, not forgetting tricky spots between your toes, before putting on socks and shoes. This will reduce your risk for a fungal infection. (And more foot odor!)

6.     Change your socks every day, or more often if the socks get sweaty or wet for any other reason.

7.     Try to avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row, to reduce the chances of contracting foot odor from stinky, bacteria-filled footwear.

8.     Always check your feet for signs of athlete's foot, such as red, dry or itchy skin patches. Pay special attention to the skin between your toes, where fungus loves to grow. And, if you notice any changes to the appearance of your foot skin, come into the office right away for treatment. 

9.     If your feet are prone to sweating, we can recommend a foot deodorant to help keep odor from becoming an embarrassing problem.

10.    You may wish to invest in moisture-wicking socks to help keep your feet dry, clean and smelling their best each day.


Treating Foot Odor in Powder Springs

Until now, we've focused a lot on preventing foot odor problems. But what should you do if the smell of your feet is already concerning? Stop turning to temporary fixes like shoe sprays. Instead, schedule an appointment in the office, where we'll come up with lasting solutions for foot odor.

To begin with, we'll figure out what's causing foot odor for you or your loved one. If an infection is to blame, we can quickly provide an effective medication that will resolve your condition, and your foot odor! Or, if foot sweat is the reason your feet aren't smelling their best, we can help you select foot sprays, shoes, and socks that will help reduce the amount of moisture on your feet. We can even provide a daily, step-by-step routine to fight off foot odor, so come on in and see us as soon as you can! Before you know it, smelly feet will be a problem in your past. And a sweet-smelling summer will be all you need to think about!