Natural Remedies for Smelly Feet

What causes foot odor as well as how to combat it.

No one likes having feet which can clear a room.  Unfortunately, there are many bad assumptions about people who have foot odor, such as they must not be people who bathe regularly or they have poor hygiene.  This is rarely the case.  Foot odor is simply caused by bacteria which needs a warm, moist place in which to breed - so naturally shoes make an ideal habitat.  Therefore, one of the first things we should try when combating foot odor is to take a good hard look at what we are putting on our feet.

Avoid socks and shoes which are made from synthetic fibers.  Synthetic fibers normally do not allow our feet to breathe the way natural fibers would.  When heat and moisture are trapped against the skin, those icky, stinky bacteria will wreak havoc (think underarms without deodorant/antiperspirant).  Starting with socks, find ones which are made from 100% cotton, wool or other natural materials.  These can be blended fibers, so long as they are blended with other natural fibers.  By allowing for breathable materials, heat and moisture are less likely to get stuck on the skin.  In addition, wear shoes which are of natural materials, such as genuine leather or canvas.  Real leather and canvas are both breathable materials which can draw moisture away from the skin.  Unfortunately, genuine leather costs more than the cheaply made products found at stores which usually advertise that their products cost less.  Even higher end department stores may have fake leather shoes on their shelves.  Just because an item may look and feel like leather, you should check to make certain that the words "genuine leather" appear somewhere on the product or you may safely assume that it is not.

From a personal note, I once bought what appeared to be genuine leather moccasins from an outdoor market.  Within an hour of use, my feet were sweating profusely and both the shoes and my feet were stinking.  Those shoes got pitched immediately.  However, I frequently buy moccasins which come from a well-known store which advertise both its moccasin quality as well as these being made from genuine leather.  These moccasins last a long time without any odor whatsoever, even though I wear them without socks and often on long summer walks.  They may be much more expensive but they last without problems.  You get what you pay for.

If your boyfriend does a lot of walking and hiking, he should look into buying socks which state how they draw moisture away from the feet.  You can find socks such as these at almost any store which specializes in hiking/camping/outdoor activity.  They do cost more (often around $12 a pair) but they are worth every penny.  For one thing, it may help prevent hypothermia as feet are often the one thing which gets neglected in outdoor preparedness.  Hypothermia can come quickly on feet which are cold and wet.  For another, by drawing that moisture away, odor causing bacteria will be unable to form.

As another personal note:  When I first moved to the Colorado Rockies a few years back, I bought an inexpensive pair of snow boots which advertised that they were waterproof and had a faux fur lining in order to keep and maintain warm feet.  Both of these two things it did beautifully.  However, the faux fur lining caused my feet to perspire, even in cold weather and nothing in the boot was designed to keep that moisture away from the foot.  Not only did this make my feet stink, the boots themselves started stinking so badly that I had to keep them outside.  No product I could buy would kill that odor which became so bad that I was unable to wear them around people.  So, I spent more money on snow boots with a natural wool lining and I had no more problems.

Using natural fibers and materials in socks and shoes can help prevent foot odor most of the time and with most people.  However, if your boyfriend still is having problems, there are some other things he can do which will help immensely, such as:

Frequent washing of the foot, especially the soles of the foot.  This is where most of the sweat glands are located.  See if he can wash his feet at least twice a day.  Soaking feet in hot baths, especially ones with salt and/or baking soda will also help draw away odor and toxins.  If he is willing to use a deodorant soap, using one on his feet will help combat the odor though it will do nothing to prevent foot perspiration.

Using a deodorant on the feet.  Your boyfriend probably already uses a deodorant/antiperspirant under his arms every day.  Perhaps he should try using one on his feet as well?  (Many people confuse deodorant with antiperspirant.  Most "deodorants" you buy in the store are a combination of the two.  "Natural deodorants" are strictly deodorants which contain natural mineral salts but no aluminum chloride, which many consider a carcinogen but is standard in antiperspirants.)  He could also try deodorant powders or even baking soda on his feet or in his socks/shoes.  However, sometimes these powders will work its way through the sock and leave a noticeable white residue on the top of the foot and shoe. He would need to check for this regularly.  If either of you can find it, you may want to try a wild yam powder.  Not only is this extremely safe (it has even been recommended for use as a "feminine deodorant" and contains no talc), it is a natural deodorant with antiperspirant properties.  If he is wanting to avoid standard antiperspirants, this can work well.

It may be he only needs to do one of these suggestions or it may be he needs to try all of them in conjunction with each other in order to combat his foot odor.  In any case, I wish you both the best of luck.

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Posted on Jun 10, 2009