Although summer brings the heat for your feet, winter weather also calls for thick socks and heavy-duty footwear, which can cause sweat buildup, resulting in smelly feet. Layers of socks and boots that don't allow for ventilation can make you significantly more susceptible to foul odors in the winter and can be a frustrating problem for you or the loved ones with whom you share a space. This blog will highlight some common causes of foot odor and show you how to address them to keep your feet fresh, clean, and healthy throughout the cold season.
One of the most common causes of foot odor is socks and shoes that do not provide adequate ventilation to keep your feet dry. Your feet naturally perspire, but if you wear socks made of artificial fibers that trap the sweat, the naturally-occurring bacteria on your feet consume the moisture, eventually creating an acidic byproduct that causes foot odor. We recommend switching to socks made of natural fibers like cotton or wool or looking for sport-performance socks that wick away sweat. If your shoes have insoles, regularly wash them, and allow them to air out between wears. You may also want to consider shoes that offer more breathability or wiggle room. Tight shoes can decrease breathability even with natural fibers. Antiperspirant spray before putting on socks will help decrease sweating (just like we do under our arms). If your feet are still sweating with more breathing room, consider adding talcum powder to soak up excess moisture.
Fungus grows in warm moist areas, and if you have a fungus on your feet, winter is a time when a foot fungus can thrive. Athlete's foot is a common fungus that can also cause foot odor. It can be picked up in communal spaces like gyms, pools, or spas. Luckily, we have tips to help you prevent foot infections and fungus in public spaces. Athlete's foot can be easily treated with an antifungal foot spray or medicated foot powder. However, if the problem persists, make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist.
Wounds or Ulcers
Visually inspect your feet to make sure there are no breaks in the skin, wounds, or ulceration. Breaks in the skin can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, invade the wound, cause infection, and result in an unpleasant odor. Avoid scented lotions or other scented toiletries to hide the smell, as fragranced topicals may worsen the condition of the wound. Additionally, if you have neuropathy or poor feeling in your feet, you might not be aware of wounds, ulcerations, or infections which can cause foot odor.
Sometimes we forget to wash our feet or lower limbs while in the shower and don't give them the hygienic care they deserve! Neglecting these areas can cause the acidic byproducts to build up on your feet and cause a long-term odor issue. To address this problem, thoroughly wash your feet daily with warm water, mild soap, and a washcloth. After drying off, apply a moisturizer, and allow your feet to dry before placing them in clean socks. Cleaning off the day's sweat will give your feet a better opportunity to stay fresh longer while bundled up in socks and boots.
If you have followed these suggestions and are still frustrated by foot odor, call us at 717-757-3537 to schedule an appointment. Our expert podiatrists can give a complete examination and provide a plan to ensure your feet stay healthy, clean, and odor-free.