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Foot Odor Prevention and Treatment
DOES YOUR SKATING STINK OR IS IT YOUR FEET?
by Kathie Fry
When you come home from skating
does your family make you take off your skates in
the back yard? Will they do ANYTHING to keep
you from doing it in the car?
If you are like most people, your feet do not
smell their best after a hard workout
(my feet, of course, smell lovely all the time).
This can be an embarrassing problem, but it is
completely normal and natural for perspiration,
dead skin cells, and bacteria to cause some degree
of foot odor. In most cases odor problems are
preventable, and when they are not preventable they are almost
Try These Things First
Foot odor is usually caused by bacteria, and the
only way to really get rid of it, is to get rid
of the bacteria. An even better strategy is to
prevent the bacteria from growing in the first place.
Products like charcoal-impregnated insoles are not
really that helpful, because they do not get rid
of the source of the problem.
Here are some things that will help:
Wash your feet thoroughly every day, with a good
antibacterial soap. Scrub them hard with a
wash cloth or body brush to remove all of the dead skin
cells. Take extra care to scrub the area between
Dry your feet immediately after bathing,
especially between your toes. Some people
use a hair dryer to make sure their feet
are completely dry.
Change your socks frequently,
especially when you are exercising.
Whenever possible, do not wear the same
shoes two days in a row. Try to let your
shoes dry out 1 or 2 days between wearings.
(it would be best to do this for skates too,
but not many people can afford to buy 3 pairs
of good skates!)
Sprinkle talcum powder or one of the commercial
foot powders (which sometimes ARE talcum powder)
into the toes of your
socks to help keep your feet dry and discourage
the growth of bacteria. Some people like to use baking
soda, but others say it feels gritty against their skin.
If you believe your feet perspire excessively,
you can rub an underarm antiperspirant into your feet
to help them stay dry. If it contains Aluminum
Chlorohydrate it will be even more effective, but
wash it off right away if it starts to irritate your feet.
If none of these things work, you can try
applying a 5% or 10%
solution of Benzoyl Peroxide gel to your feet,
to decrease bacteria growth.
Treatment for Severe Problems
Soak your feet every day, in a solution of
black tea and cool water. Some
people believe the tannin
in the tea has a deodorizing effect, and they believe it makes
the sweat glands shut down temporarily.
HOW TO DO IT:
Brew 2 tea bags in 2 cups (1 pint) of boiling water for 15 minutes.
Add the tea to 2 quarts of cool water, and soak your feet for 20 to
30 minutes. To convert these measurement units to metric units, see
Converters for International Skaters.
Some people take zinc supplements to prevent
foot odor, because they believe foot odor can
be a sign of zinc deficiency.
Get your doctor's opinion before you try this,
and ask for a dosage recommendation,
so you don't take a toxic amount.
Some people drink diluted liquid chlorophyll
to prevent foot odor, because chlorophyll
deodorizes other parts of the body, inside
and out. Check with your doctor before trying
this, because chlorophyll can have side effects.
If you have a very serious sweating problem
or a very serious foot odor problem (called bromohydrosis)
your doctor may suggest
that you try one of these treatments:
Aluminum Chloride with Ethyl Alcohol
This medication is more commonly known
by the brand name DrysolŪ. It is very
effective, but it can cause skin irritation.
Most doctors will tell you to apply it at
night and wash it off completely the
If you have a very difficult foot odor problem,
your doctor may want to prescribe an antibiotic like
2% Erythromycin or 1% Clindamycin, applied each morning
and at at bedtime. These medications will be effective in killing most
odor-causing bacteria. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Using antibiotics should
be avoided whenever possible. Frequent use can
make them ineffective, because the bacteria will develop
a resistance to that particular antibiotic).
This is the main ingredient in many
sun-free tanning products. It will stain
your feet brown, but it can
be effective in reducing excessive perspiration,
when applied to the bottom of the feet in
a 2% to 10% solution.
Acetic Acid Foot Baths
Acetic acid foot baths can be effective in
drying up sweat glands, if treatments
are given 3 times per day.
This treatment is called iontophoresis.
The feet are immersed in a pan of water and
15 or 20 mA of electric current is applied. Iontophoresis
is not a cure for excessive sweating, but it
usually provides temporary relief, if applied frequently.
It works by "injecting" electronically charged ions
into the skin, causing the sweat glands to
shut down temporarily.
Injecting tiny amounts of
botulism toxin into the sweat
glands under the skin can sometimes dry
up those glands for several months.
Up to 20 injections may be needed,
but the treatment will work for up
to nine months.
This treatment is similar to the
botulism injections used by
cosmetic surgeons to decrease the
appearance of wrinkles on the skin.
Surgery is the solution of last
resort, but for a very small minority,
it is the only thing that works.
The two most common procedures are
(1) blocking the nerve that causes
sweating, and (2) complete removal of the sweat glands.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The nerves related to
foot sweating are not all located near
the feet, and nerve blocking surgery
for excessive foot perspiration can have unexpected
side effects. Ask your doctor about these!
The vast majority of foot perspiration and odor problems can
be effectively treated with simple home remedies.
I organized this article
with the most effective and safest home treatments first,
and the most drastic and radical treatments at the end.
If you have a problem with excessive foot odor, you can be
sure that relief IS available. Try some of these suggestions,
and work with your doctor, to find the solution that works
best for you!
Mentioned in this Article
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