Smelly feet can be very embarrassing and uncomfortable. There are many people, especially men, who have to deal with this problem everyday. But once you understand the problem, you’ll be able to take steps to tackle it.

Switch to cotton socks

The main cause of foot odor is sweat. Did you know that each foot has more than 250,000 sweat glands? The sweat itself is odorless, but it creates a beneficial environment for bacteria to grow and produce bad-smelling substances. Certain types of socks can contribute to sweaty feet because they provide less ventilation. For example, wearing synthetic materials, such as polyester or nylon socks, may increase perspiration and therefore may intensify foot odor. Natural fibers such as cotton and wool are best as they provide the best ventilation for the feet.

Those who go barefoot tend to have fewer problems with foot odor, but keep in mind that wearing closed shoes without any socks at all is not a good idea as the shoe materials may also increase sweating and bacterial activity that cause odor. If you must wear shoes without socks for fashion’s sake, try dotting antiperspirant on the bottoms of your feet and between your toes. You can also sprinkle baby powder on the sides of your shoes before and after you wear them.

Choose the proper phoes

Any shoe can have the ability to make the foot sweat, and therefore smell – even sandals. Shoe materials that have a propensity to hold in moisture are those that have a greater likelihood to create the environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. Plastic shoes and those made of suede are two examples of materials that trap moisture, increasing bacterial growth and the risk for foot odor.

For any shoe, it is best not to wear the same pair day after day. Give your shoes time to air out between wear. If you find that you have a pair of shoes that odor tends to stick around, even after spending time off your feet, try swabbing the inside with alcohol to disinfect then wait at least two days before wearing.

Keep your feet clean and dry

The best measure for preventing foot odor is good hygiene and self-care. Use an anti-bacterial soap to thoroughly wash your feet daily. After a shower (or a swim or a walk in the rain), be sure to completely dry your feet to prevent odor-causing fungus growth. Athlete’s foot, for example, is a type of fungal infection that thrives in a warm moist environment, such as wet feet inside of a shoe. You may also want to try an anti-fungal powder such as Tinactin or Desenex after your shower to prevent fungus growth.

Home remedies

You may already have some wonderful odor-killing solutions in your home. Try soaking feet nightly in 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water to eliminate odoriferous bacteria. Alternatively, take a daily foot bath in strong black tea (letting it cool first) for 30 minutes. The tannin’s in the tea kill bacteria and close the pores in your feet, keeping feet dry longer. (Caution: Only do this when your feet are free of cuts.)

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