Kicking off your shoes (or heels) at the end of the day can be a refreshing feeling, that is, unless it’s spoiled by a rotten smell that follows. If this is what you experience on a regular basis, then you likely have foot odor (if you haven’t figured it out already).
Foot odor, or bromhidrosis, typically occurs when sweat gets trapped inside socks and shoes to create an ideal environment for a certain kind of bacteria to thrive in. This bacteria, known as brevibacteria linens, eats dead skin on your feet and emits a gas called methanethiol. It’s the gas that creates the foul smell.
To combat foot odor, you have to address the sweat and the dry skin together. First, use a pumice stone when you’re in the shower to remove the dead and dry skin from your feet. It’s also a good idea to use a moisturizer post-shower. Try Kerstin Florian Kräuter Fuß Balm ($32). It contains ingredients that help nourish and sooth the feet, and it’s antifungal too. Just make sure it’s fully absorbed into the skin before you slip on your shoes.
As for the sweat, avoid wearing shoes that are poorly ventilated or made of synthetic materials. Or, at least limit the amount of time you wear them. Make sure your feet are completely dry when you put your shoes on and always wear clean socks. Try to vary the shoes you wear from day to day to allow each pair to air out completely before putting them on again. Dr. Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Insoles ($6) also help absorb sweat and neutralize odor.
If your shoes already harbor a smell, it’s not the end of the world. Some helpful tips include leaving your shoes out in the sun for a day to dry them out and kill the bacteria. Or some athletes put them in the freezer instead. Just be sure to place them in a Ziploc bag to keep it sanitary. Other tips include sprinkling kitty litter or baking powder in your shoes overnight to absorb and kill the odor—even a dryer sheet will work.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to odor-free feet. So go ahead, take those shoes off and smell the fresh air!
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