Never Worry About Stinky Feet Again With Our Tips

Stinky feet. So many of us have experienced it before; it's natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. Yet, it's not exactly something many of us want to be shouting from the rooftops — despite so many of us experiencing the issue. It can be embarrassing and really have an impact on one's confidence. The Institute for Preventive Foot Health (IPFH) found in its 2012 National Foot Health Assessment that as many as 16% of Americans aged 21 or over have had some kind of foot odor issue in their life. That's around 36 million people. Not only that, but Kids Health claimed that between 10% to 15% of people have feet that smell extra bad due to a build-up of the bacteria, known as Kyetococcus sedentarius.

But if you're struggling with stinky feet and don't know how to fix them, there are things you can do to keep yourself smelling and feeling fresher. And we're sharing some of our top tips for saying goodbye to foot odor.

Put a little extra effort into foot hygiene

It's easy to neglect your feet when in the bath or the shower (because, well, we're usually standing on them), but if you have a lingering foot odor, sometimes a little more attention is needed. If you're really struggling with smell, there are plenty of antifungal and antibacterial soaps on the market that are specifically designed to help target the issue.

If you don't feel your feet are at the stage they need antifungal or antibacterial soap (or you just don't have one to hand), then use a mild regular soap to wash your feet instead. Try gently scrubbing them in water using a brush once every day (or more if you feel you need it), making sure you get in between the toes. Then, dry your feet completely to prevent bacteria from reproducing in a moist environment.

Another way to keep your feet clean is by soaking them for around 20 minutes every week. To combat those stinky feet, start with a bowl, bucket, or bath (or anything else you may have to hand) of warm water and add in a cup of Epsom salt. If you don't have Epsom salt or can't use the product due to an allergy, then try mixing one part of either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with two parts warm water. A 2018 review found apple cider vinegar can potentially help eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

Try an antiperspirant foot cream, talcum powder, or antifungal treatment

Applying an antiperspirant foot cream to your feet can help prevent any odor from coming from your feet. Think of it like applying deodorant to your underarms and how bad your armpits can smell on those days you forget. The reason this works so well is that it can help combat hyperhidrosis, which is the medical term for excess sweating. After all, a lot of foot smell can be caused by foot sweat. "Excess sweat creates moisture, which makes bacterial growth greater," Dr. Stephen Mandy, a professor of dermatology, explained to Insider. If you're struggling with odor, it could be worth visiting your doctor who may be able to prescribe a greater strength of cream recommended specifically for you. If you don't feel the problem is quite that bad, though, talcum powder may also work to combat the odor. That's because putting talcum powder on our feet can actually help to soak up moisture caused by things like sweat, stopping bacteria from developing.

Many people experience foot odor due to athlete's foot. Athlete's foot can develop when excess sweat is present, and can result in a musty smell. It can also result in moist areas in between the toes, or red, flaky skin. To combat this, there are plenty of athlete's foot remedies you can get an over-the-counter antifungal medication, or your doctor may be able to prescribe you some medication if you need something stronger.

And pay close attention to what's on your feet

Shoes that are too tight are more likely to trap moisture inside, which can make your feet feel wet (which, as we know, is a breeding ground for bacteria). That's why you want your shoes to have breathability. For many people, particularly in the summer months, sandals are a good choice to combat foot odor and let moisture disperse. But it's not just about what you're wearing. It can also be about what you're not wearing. It's recommended you go without shoes or socks when you're at home (as long as you're indoors) to reduce how much your feet sweat.

A few other tips when it comes to shoes? Wash the insoles regularly, and try things like freshening or disinfectant shoe sprays to keep bad smells at bay. In a pinch, regular deodorant sprayed into your shoe can have a similar effect. There's also research to suggest charcoal insoles can help with odor. Equally, try not wearing your shoes consecutively, so there's time for them to air out.

There are also some precautions you can take with your socks. Moisture-absorbing socks made from natural fibers will help to disperse some of the moisture, rather than trapping it around your feet. You should also aim to wear fresh socks every day (socks can start to smell too) and always change your socks if you've been excessively sweating. The IPFH also recommends wearing padded socks.