Your feet beg to be let loose during the steamy summer season, and with beautiful sandals and nail polishes on the market, who are you to argue?
But summer heat can also lead to sweaty feet, and with over 250,000 sweat glands on each foot, that’s a lot of perspiration. While your sweat glands help to keep your body cool, the moisture they release can become a magnet for bacteria, creating an unpleasant and embarrassing fragrance wafting from your toes. Don’t hide your feet in shame. Here are a few tips for keeping foot odour at bay this summer.
Store your shoes properly
Chucking your shoes into the depths of your closet only leads to a jumbled mess, and a breeding ground for bacteria. And forget storing just worn footwear in their original boxes – this practice won’t curb the proliferation of smelly germs either – bacteria flourish in small, dark places where damp shoes congregate.
To halt the growth of bacteria and the unattractive scents that they create, Stephen Hartman, a Waterloo, Ont. chiropodist and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine recommends keeping your shoes in an open location that allows air to circulate around them.
“Bacteria are thirsty; they need moisture to survive,” he says. By storing your shoes where they can dry out, you’ll be eliminating the damp environment that bacteria prefer.
Rotate your footwear
Even if you’ve fallen in love with a particular pair of shoes, do your feet a favour and don’t wear them every day. Hartman suggests rotating your footwear regularly so each pair can breathe, and dry out.
Soak your feet
Soaking your feet for 15 minutes several times per week at home is a quick, inexpensive and effective method for washing away lingering bacteria, and eliminating offensive smells. Try immersing your feet in a basin or bathtub of warm water mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil, a few spoonfuls of baking soda and Epsom salts.
This concoction will leave your feet feeling fresh, relaxed and nicely scented. “Some people use soap or tea bags, too – anything that’s an astringent (a drying agent),” says Hartman. After soaking, Hartman recommends sterilizing the basin, foot spa or tub with a diluted bleach solution to prevent discarded bacteria and fungus from attacking the feet of the next user.
When wearing running shoes, boots or other closed-in shoes, Hartman says that it’s imperative to don socks. “Closed-in shoes worn without socks are a major contributor to odour,” he says. “Without socks, the moisture from perspiration gets trapped in the shoe’s insole creating an odour that’s unbelievably strong and very hard to eradicate.”