Q. I have read many questions about toenail fungus but not much about our issue. My daughter has hot sweaty feet that smell. She hates wearing socks because she says they make her feet too hot.

What can we do to relieve our problems–her hot, sweaty feet and our daily olfactory invasion? Her aunt also suffers with sweaty, smelly feet.

 

A. Warmth and moisture encourage the growth of bacteria that can contribute to foot odor. These conditions also allow the fungus that causes nail fungus and athlete’s foot to flourish.

Readers of our column have offered all sorts of remedies for such problems. One suggested drinking a chlorophyll solution from the health food store for smelly feet. A gentleman reported that diluted vinegar applications plus Vicks VapoRub helped both athlete’s foot and nail fungus. Another reader shared that he had suffered from excessive foot sweat for years. He tried tannic acid (tea) to soak the feet and noted: “It works. My feet feel and smell better than they have in years.”

We have collected a number of suggestions from readers in our guides Unique Uses for Vicks and Smelly Feet.

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  1. cy
    Reply

    I was wondering if you ever found a solution to your problem because I do have that problem too. When I wear shoes the stink comes out of my shoes and others around Me can smell it. It’s a horrible thing to live with. Changedy whole life have been to 4 different doctors no solution yet. It’s so weird I don’t why this has happened to me I never had this problem.

  2. lhs
    Reply

    I have responded to several other people since my original post on this subject on September 1, 2007.
    Go back and read the first post and the others that followed it.
    Note my comments regarding “Athlete’s Shoes.”
    I really urge you to try this for several weeks or months. I too am diabetic and I know how serious it can be.
    LHS

  3. xari
    Reply

    Hi,
    Need help! Asap!
    I’m working at a call center 6 days a week with an air-conditioned room and my mates noticing the smell on my feet, I inherited the diabetes from my parents and I don’t know if the odor was also related to it, I don’t know what to do. After I consulted a doctor about the diabetes it started after few weeks I’ve taken the medication. My feet began to smell like I don’t know how to express it, I’m so uncomfortable and disgusted coz all of my family doesn’t have this!
    I’ve already done all the things that was suggested, advised such as talcum powder, deodorants, hot water, brush feet 2x a day and also using green tea coz its just the same with black ones but still the same!
    My feet still stinks, hope you can give home remedies or anything that you think will be very effective!
    THANK YOU!

  4. LHS
    Reply

    Jennifer, I feel – or smell – your pain.
    Go back to February 19, 2013 and read my letter and those that followed.
    Let me know if you try it and your results.
    LHS

  5. lhs
    Reply

    As you get started, throw the current pair of slippers away.
    Buy 3 new pairs or go without for a while.
    Rotate them so you are always putting on a dry pair.
    LHS

  6. Lu's
    Reply

    Also read the 4 posts above yours. Those are some back and forths between Maria and me. My post gives more details and “how-to.”

  7. LHS
    Reply

    See my post dated Sept 1, 2007. It really works and it works fast. LHS

  8. S wheeler
    Reply

    My wife has smelly feet and has had ever since I’ve known her, she has tried all sorts deodorant insoles to no avail, it doesn’t matter what type of shoes she wears her feet smell bad and we have to change her slippers every 3 months as they rot can anyone help her or better still help me, my kids are also showing signs of smelly feet :(

  9. Maria
    Reply

    I did this just recently and I can say of all the things I did before this one works!!! Thank you for sharing.

  10. LHS
    Reply

    My older sister never approached the artistry of Margaret Hookham, but I remember her toe shoes and the incredible amount of work she put in to her art. If you scroll upward, you will see two of my earlier posts dated Sept 1, 2007 and Feb 16, 2013.
    While those are about ATHLETES FOOT, they are also about foot odor.
    The good news is that if you don’t have athletes foot, getting rid of the foot odor may be much easier. Read on:
    If you lived where could safely walk around without shoes 24hrs/day 7 days/week, your feet would not smell bad.
    Question:
    Did your foot odor get worse after you started dancing?
    Did your foot odor get worse after you started wearing UGGS?
    Or
    Did your foot odor get worse after another shoe purchase?
    If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” you may have “Athletes Shoe.” That is my own way to describe a shoe that gets colonized with bacteria or fungus. When you add your own perspiration (moisture) and warmth, those little buggers begin to grow and smell. UGGS are rubber and despite the air vents, they don’t breathe so your feet sweat. If you google UGGS Odor, I think you’ll be surprised at the number of “Hits” you get.
    So here are some suggestions:
    1. Pack the UGGS away; better yet, THROW them away.
    2. Do the vinegar soaks (see my two previous letters).
    3. If you are serious about ballet, save your money and purchase 2 – 3 more pairs of ballet shoes and wear them in rotation so that each day, you can put on a pair that is completely dry. I have no idea how much your shoes will cost, so if having 2 – 4 pairs of shoes would break the bank, google “shoe dryer plans.”
    4. Wear your other shoes in some sort of rotation.
    5. If the odor persists for more than a week or two after you do these things, ask your folks to let your doctor look at your feet.
    I wish you the best, and I still believe that I hold the record for smelly feet.
    LHS

  11. JLO
    Reply

    I am 12 years old and have a really really really horrible foot odor!!! I am a dancer so I am always sweating in ballet shoes for 7 hours at a time while sweating! I wear my UGGS to school and the stink! It is so embarrassing and disgusting. I need something that will work quickly and dosen’t require lots of time. PLEASE HELP!!!

  12. LHS
    Reply

    If you go back to September 1, 2007, I am the same LHS. I’d like to offer a thought or two about TIME – how long it takes for Vinegar to work.
    So many have CLAIMED to have the worst smelling feet, that I almost wish I had been able to bottle some of my own foot odor from 50 years ago – alas.
    While I am a physician, I am not a dermatologist. When I had severe Athlete’s Foot, the bottoms of my feet itched like crazy and I had fissures between my toes and deeper ones on the bottom of my feet that bled.
    By the time I started using vinegar, I had had the condition for over 30 years. As a result – in addition to the fissures – I had thick calluses – essentially deep piles of surface skin – that were probably harboring fungus just waiting for enough moisture (wet shoes, perspiration, etc) to grow.
    One of the things that happens when you soak in Vinegar is that you provide moisture (Vinegar is mostly water). That dead skin absorbs the water and the Acetic Acid (Vinegar) it contains. The skin softens an when you dry your feet, some of the Acetic Acid stays behind and creates a hostile environment for the fungus.
    It also causes a gentle debridement of dead tissue. Once the fissures between my toes began to heal, I could take a wash cloth or a sock and floss between my toes and remove that (I apologize if this is making you retch) gooey dead paste.
    The bottoms of my feet and the area around my heel, took longer, but eventually the calluses there became thinner too.
    The process took TIME:
    Initially, I sat on the toilet and soaked my feet religiously twice a day while I did my business and read a magazine for 10 – 15 minutes. If the smell of vinegar is a problem – as it was for one person – do it outside or plug in a fan or put the vinegar and your feet in a plastic bag and wrap a soft tie around the top – or get some thick white cotton socks, wet them with vinegar, put on a pair of those rubber shoes and walk around outside for a bit.
    How much time will it take for your feet to look, feel and smell better, will depend on the current condition of your feet and how regular you are about doing the soaks. I felt better within a week, my fissures ALL healed within a month – maybe two and I have beautiful feet (except for one stubborn toenail)
    I suggest that you rotate your shoes so that you always start out the day with a dry pair.
    I also sprayed the inside of my shoes with Lysol for a few weeks so that I was not constantly re-infecting myself.
    There are other diseases that affect the skin of the feet and if you have not already seen a dermatologist, do it., but if you have Athletes Foot or just Smelly Feet, I believe this will help.
    I still soak my feet – usually once a day, but I also skip days on occasion.

  13. Roberta
    Reply

    Smelly feet and shoes are normal, also by children. Washing and drying the feet of your child every day is very important. I also think the use of cedar wood is probably one of the best things to disinfect children’s feet. Cedar wood insoles fight the bad smelling food bacteria and give off a very good smelling flavor. The insoles are available in children size.

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