Do people around you complain of a “horrible stench” in the room? They may not know the reason behind it, but you do! Smelly feet can be quite an embarrassment, especially at places where you have to take off your shoes and socks! Instead of shutting yourself from the rest of the world, we recommend you to explore these natural home remedies for foot odor.
But, before that, let us tell you something! Smelly feet is a common problem experienced by many and pose no significant health risks. In medical terms, it is called Bromodosis, which is caused by excess bacterial growth on the skin, due to sweat accumulation. The main symptom of this condition is an unbearable, foul smell arising from your feet.
Have you ever wondered what causes this problem? Let us understand this part as well!
Causes of Foot Odour or Smelly Feet:
It is known that teenagers and working men & women experience this problem more than others. Do you know why? Let’s find out the reasons behindBromodosis or foot odour:
1. Bacterial Growth:
Blame the microbes for that unbearable stench from your feet! Our feet are subjected to a lot of sweat. While sweat by nature is odourless, the excess moisture it lends, offers a thriving ground for bacteria like Propionibacteria, Staphylococcus, etc. to multiply.
These microbes undergo metabolism, during which they release waste acids like acetic acid, lactic acid, methanethiol, etc., which have a bad odour.
2. Choice of Footwear:
Shoes and socks that have no ventilation channels or made from materials like polyester, nylon, etc., increase the surface area for bacterial breeding. Also, dirty, unclean foot wear is home to millions of odor causing bacteria that worsen the condition.
3. Poor Foot Hygiene:
Unwashed feet are breeding grounds for bacteria. They live and multiply on the dead cells of your skin and lead to foot odour.
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4. Fungal Infections:
Foot infections like athletes foot can lead to smelly feet or Bromodosis. The fungal growth on the warm and moist skin of the feet contributes to a pungent, fermented cheese-like stench.
8 Effective Home Remedies For Smelly Feet:
We know how it feels to walk out of the house everyday with a fear of the stench haunting you! Let us also warn you that spraying your feet with a foot deodorant will be of no use and infact, may end up worsening the condition. To eliminate the problem from roots and banish the bad smell forever, we strongly recommend you to try these natural foot odor home remedies:
1. Vinegar or Listerine Soak:
One of the easy foot odor home remedies is a Vinegar soak. Vinegar has acetic acid which is a strong anti-microbial agent. Soaking your foot in a warm vinegar and water solution for a while can effectively curb bacterial growth and lower the chance of infections. Also, vinegar acts as a natural deodorant that cuts down the foul smell and leaves your feet smelling fresh.
Listerine, a popular mouth wash brand can be used as an alternative to Vinegar or along with it. It has many active ingredients that fight fungal and bacterial infections, including athlete’s foot. The minty fragrance and cooling sensation of Listerine relax your senses too!
- Vinegar or Listerine – 1 Part.
- Warm Water – 2 Parts.
- Large Tub for Soaking.
How to Do:
- In a large tab, add 1 part of vinegar/ Listerine to 2 parts of warm water.
- Soak your feet in the solution for 10-20 minutes.
- Rinse with water.
- Repeat this daily until symptoms subside.
Caution: This treatment may not suit people with sensitive skin, open cracks or foot sores.
2. Activated Charcoal With Baking Soda:
Activated charcoal offers numerous benefits to our body. It is an excellent home treatment for foot odor that works by absorbing toxins and bacteria and eliminate them. Also, a study shows that activated charcoal, when combined with sodium bicarbonate or baking soda has high odour reducing capacity (1).
Along with using this mixture as a foot soak, you can even tie up some activated charcoal powder in a small muslin bag and place it in your shoes to eliminate bad smell.
- Epsom Salt – 1 Cup.
- Activated Charcoal – 2 tbsp.
- Baking Soda – ½ Cup.
- Essential Oils – few drops (optional).
How to Do:
- Combine all the ingredients well without any lumps.
- Now add ½ Cup of this mixture to a tub of warm water.
- Soak your feet in it for 20 minutes.
Caution: This mixture may cause irritation in people with sensitive skin. If you experience any reaction, discontinue the process and rinse your feet thoroughly with water.
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3. Rubbing Alcohol:
Rubbing alcohol is a powerful anti-microbial agent that can kill surface-level bacteria and fungal growth. It is also quite effective in treating toe-nail infections and athlete’s foot. Also, rubbing alcohol has a drying effect on the skin, which is important to curb the bacteria from multiplying.
Along with using it as a foot soak, you can also use rubbing alcohol as a home remedy for foot odour in shoes. Just spray the solution directly on the surface and let It dry or use it on a cotton ball to rub the inner side of the shoe.
- Rubbing Alcohol – 70%
- Water – 30%
How to Do:
- In a tub, prepare 70% alcohol bath.
- Soak your feet in the solution.
- Leave it on for 5 minutes.
- Remove your feet and pat dry.
Caution: Soaking your feet in 70% alcohol can dehydrate your skin. Not recommended for people with flaky, dry skin or with deep cracks on feet.
4. Epsom Salt Soak:
Epsom salt is a proven natural way to get rid of smelly feet. The theory behind is that Epsom salt dehydrates the skin and creates a difficult environment for the bacteria to breed. This leads to lowered levels of foot odour. Also, soaking your feet in Epsom salt is a great way to ease muscle soreness and unwind a hard day!
- Epsom Salt – ½ Cup
- Warm Water – ¾ Tub
How to Do:
- Add Epsom salt to warm water.
- Soak your feet for 20 minutes.
- Once done, dry your feet and apply a moisturizer.
Caution: Refrain from doing this soak everyday as it severely dehydrates your skin and causes deep cracks.
5. Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is considered a safe smelly feet treatment at home. It contains lauric acid which is a mild anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. It kills the surface-level microbes and softens your skin at the same time. To enhance its properties, you can add a few drops of essential oils.
- Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp.
- Sandalwood or Mint Essential oils – 5-10 drops.
How to Do:
- Mix a few drops of essential oils in coconut oil.
- Use this mixture to massage your feet.
- Leave it overnight.
- Repeat it every night.
Caution: No major side effects associated with this treatment. However, be sure you are not allergic to any of these oils.
6. Soaking Feet in Tea:
Black tea soak is one of the lesser-known home remedies for treating bad foot odor. A strong black tea decoction contains high amounts of tannic acid which effectively kills bacteria and other odour-causing germs. That’s not all! It also acts as an astringent that closes skin pores and reduces the amount of sweat.
- Tea Bag – 2
- Hot Water – 1 Mug
How to Do:
- Prepare black tea by infusing the bags in hot water.
- Leave it for 5 minutes to get a strong decoction.
- Add this solution to a tub of water.
- Soak your feet in it for 20 minutes.
- Remove and pat dry.
Caution: No major side effects associated with this treatment. Use this no more than twice a week.
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7. Bitter Orange Oil:
Bitter orange oil is an essential oil that is extracted from the bitter orange fruits. When used in a diluted form, this oil is known to treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm and even foot odour (2). Here’s how to use this ingredient as a natural cure for smelly feet:
- Bitter Orange Oil – 4 drops.
- Carrier Oil – 2 tbsp.
How to Do:
- Dilute the oil in a carrier oil like coconut or almond.
- Apply it on all over the affected feet.
- Leave it on until dry.
Caution: Never use this oil in its pure form as it can cause burns.
8. Peppermint Oil:
One of the most popular home remedies for foot odor is Peppermint essential oil. Along with deodorizing the feet, this oil can also kill smell-causing bacteria. You can even combine it with other essential oils like tea-tree or lavender, to achieve quicker benefits.
- Peppermint Essential Oil – 10 drops.
- Warm water with Salt – 1 tub.
How to Do:
- Add peppermint oil to salt water foot soak.
- Place your feet in the water.
- Leave it on for 15 minutes.
- Repeat it twice or thrice a week.
Caution: Avoid using it undiluted on your feet as it can lead to burns and damage.
Tips to Treat Smelly Feet At Home Naturally:
The above-mentioned home remedies for smelly feet do help in treating the problem temporarily. But, if you want to permanently put an end to the ‘stinky days’ in your life, follow these simple tips and lifestyle adjustments:
1. Make Diet Changes:
Did you know that eating certain foods can worsen the foot odor? Strange, but true! This is why podiatrists (foot-related doctors) often recommend their patients to avoid a few foods and include some in their diet to fight Bromodosis. Here’s the list for you:
- Foods like Cayenne pepper, spices, fried food, hot chillies etc., which increase the body temperature and inturn, sweat production.
- Processed foods like white pasta, bread, white rice, etc. that are rich in carbohydrates and lead to a lot of sweating.
- Sulfur-rich foods like onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, etc. which release a bad odour during the breakdown process.
- High protein foods like eggs, lentils, red cabbage, etc. which release foul-smelling compounds.
- Chlorophyll-rich foods like green leafy vegetables eliminate toxins from the body and reduce foot odour
- Fresh herbs like Spearmint, parsley, peppermint etc. which cleanse your body and control the bad smell.
- Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges which detox the body and fight odour causing microbes
- Zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate which reduce body sweating and bad odours.
2. Wash Your Feet Regularly:
Keeping your feet clean and dry is the best way to dealing with smelly feet. Make sure you wash your feet with a bar of anti-bacterial soap after removing shoes and socks. Use a clean cotton towel to dry. Avoid using shoes or any closed footwear when at home.
3. Use Anti-fungal Powder:
Make it a habit to dust your feet with anti-fungal powder before wearing your socks. Make sure the entire surface and even the area between the toes is covered well. Along with absorbing excess sweat, this foot powder can also keep odor fungal infections at bay.
4. Maintain Proper Foot Hygiene:
Apart from regular washing of feet with soap, use a scrub to exfoliate the dead cells, once a week. Brush your soles and between the toes to remove any debris and bacterial buildup. Trim your nails regularly to prevent the accumulation of smelly substances. Use a good soak to detox your foot skin and prevent bad smell.
5. Wear Comfortable Shoes:
Ditch those tight, air-blocking shoes and choose something more comfortable instead. Your footwear must be made of breathable material and have air channels for ventilation. Also, invest on two pairs of shoes and wear them on alternate days. Wash them once a week and air dry.
6. Choose Cotton Socks:
Get rid of those smelly nylon and polyester socks which worsen the bad smell. Go for natural cotton socks that absorb excess sweat and moisture to keep away odour-causing bacteria. Also, these socks give you less allergies and skin irritation compared to artificial materials.
7. Keep Extra Pair of Socks:
If you have a habit of wearing the same pair of socks everyday, it’s time to put an end to it. Remove your socks after coming home and wash them immediately. Wear a fresh pair everyday to lessen your chances of catching the ‘stink bug’!
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When to Consult a Doctor For Bromodosis?
If you see no result or very little relief from these natural remedies for smelly feet, it may be the right time to see a doctor. Book an appointment with a Podiatrist, a foot speciality doctor and run them through your case. Apart from smelly feet, let them know of any rashes, itching or skin changes you might have experienced in the last few days.
A treatment for smelly feet typically comprises of topical anti-fungal or anti-bacterial ointments or special medicines to control sweating.
“Smelly feet, Smelly feet- no one likes you!”! Before someone says that to you, try out these home remedies for foot odor and put an end to this misery. If you know of any such natural treatments to control the condition, do let us know the process and benefits. We’d be happy to feature them in our article!
Frequently Asked Question and Answers (FAQs):
1. What Shoes are Better for Preventing Smelly Feet?
Ans: Before buying a new pair of shoes, make sure they are made of breathable, porous material like natural leather or canvas. Avoid buying footwear made of plastic, nylon, rubber or materials that do not allow air to get inside. The shoes must also have small vents for your foot to breathe well and allow the sweat to evaporate.
2. Why do I Experience Smelly Feet Even When I Am Wearing Sandals?
Ans: Sandals and other open types of footwear lessen the chances of getting Bromodosis. But, some people do experience this problem due to multiple reasons. For example, the cheap quality synthetic material of the sandal may react with the sweat and cause a foul smell. Also, hormonal changes in the body, especially during pregnancy or medication may double up your sweat production and lead to the condition.
3. Are There Any Other Natural Homemade Powders to Cure Smelly Feet?
Ans: While medicated powders are best at dealing with the condition, you have simpler alternatives at home which work well too. Try using baby powder, antiperspirant powder or even corn starch to soak up the excess sweat. Unlike the anti-fungal powders which fight germs, these products only absorb the moisture and keep your feet dry.