Body Odor: Part 2

The body odor we find most offensive can be isolated to our underarms and our feet. In the previous post, I talked about general body odor. Some people, however, have a really serious problem with how their feet smell, and that is the topic of today’s post.

Reasons Why We Sweat

The human body is covered with sweat glands and we sweat to regulate our temperature if we’re too hot; we also sweat when we are anxious, nervous, or stressed. Two places we notice sweating are the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. For an average person, regular bathing with warm water and soap will keep feet smelling sweet.

However, there are some people who have a tendency to sweat excessively; this is a condition called hyperhidrosis. Then there are others who suffer from a condition called bromhidrosis or bromidrosis, defined by very bad smelling perspiration.



Our feet contain the 2 kinds of sweat glands found on the rest of our body. Chronic and embarrassing foot smell is due to the apocrine glands. These glands secrete the fatty substance that many believe cause someone’s scent. While the connection between apocrine glands and pheromone emissions is not fully understood, most would agree that an unpleasant foot smell is a big problem.

Because our feet have so many sweat glands, we can excrete over a pint of moisture every day just from our feet. Our hands do the same thing, but our hands are open and exposed to the air while our feet are typically confined in shoes and socks. This warm and moist environment is a beautiful breeding ground for the bacteria that feed on the apocrine secretions of our feet. 

When shoes are removed and feet have had a chance to breathe, it might seem as though the odor has gone away, but as soon as you insert your feet back into them, the heating/sweating cycle begins and odor is not far behind.

This will cause some people to develop fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, which can also contribute to an odor problem.

How to Control Foot Odor

  • Keep your feet as clean and as dry as possible
  • After bathing, make certain you dry your feet completely
  • Use foot powder to help absorb sweat throughout the day
  • Always put on clean, dry socks if you must wear shoes, and consider changing your shoes throughout the day if you possibly can 
  • Wear natural fibers for your socks: cotton, linen, silk, and wool
  • Rotate shoes to keep them as dry as possible. Shoes don’s usually dry out overnight, so wear different shoes at least every day.
  • Whenever possible, air your feet by going barefoot or wearing sandals
  • Many natural healers recommend using tea tree oil to help with foot odor.  Always get professional advice from a naturopathic physician before using.

If odor is persistent, it may be possible that bacteria have invaded your shoes. In which case, it might be time to throw these shoes away. Then follow the above tips to prevent and treat foot odor..

If this does not manage the smell, it might be time to go to your doctor for help. Your doctor can prescribe a strong antiperspirant that is typically applied before bed and washed off in the morning.

Added to Skin Care on Tue 04/13/2010